By Mike Miller
Plans were recently unveiled for the construction of a new nitrogen fertilizer plant in southeast Iowa. The plant in Lee County will service farmers throughout the state and the Midwest.
Orascom’s Iowa Fertilizer Company is scheduled to open the plant in 2015, and it will produce hundreds of new jobs and millions in new tax revenue.
Iowa was in competition with other states for the plant, and in order to be viable, the state had to offer the Egyptian-based company tax incentives. The deal reached between the Iowa Economic Development Authority and the Iowa Fertilizer Company consisted almost entirely of reduced taxes in the future — not a taxpayer subsidy.
The Iowa Fertilizer Company will be funded with nearly
100 percent private dollars.
Had the plant located in another state, Iowa would not see a dime more in taxes, but now, the Iowa Fertilizer Company will pay both local and state taxes, bringing in significant revenue to the county and state.
Having an international company interested in doing business in Iowa makes our state more appealing to other companies looking to do business in the Midwest. This will bring more opportunities to Iowa for future economic investments.
But this plant helps the present too, not just the future. The fertilizer plant will create thousands of construction jobs and 165 permanent jobs. The construction of this plant will take a minimum of three years, creating great opportunities for the unemployed Iowans in the southeast portion of the state.
On the same day as the fertilizer plant announcement, Orascom Construction Industries also announced that it will acquire The Weitz Company. Based in Des Moines, The Weitz Company has been ranked among the Engineering News Record Top 50 Contractors list.
The Weitz Company has been in business for more than 150 years.
The acquisition by Orascom ensures The Weitz Company will continue to be a prominent figure in the Iowa economy and will provide an opportunity to expand into larger-scale projects with the help of Orascom Construction Industries.
In addition to helping with the economy, a new fertilizer plant in the state will be a significant boon to growers. There are 92,400 farms in Iowa and
30.8 million acres cultivated
annually. Iowa uses more fertilizer than any other state in the nation, at well over 1 million tons per year.
The current number of nitrogen fertilizer manufacturers cannot keep pace with demand. In fact, more than half of U.S. nitrogen needs were met by imports last year. A new fertilizer plant in Iowa will help satisfy demand for nitrogen fertilizer, and it will infuse the market with some much-needed competition, and hopefully stimulate a drop in prices.
The Iowa Fertilizer Company’s new plant is a win-win. It will be an incredible asset to farmers throughout the region, and will contribute significantly to our state’s economic recovery efforts.
Mike Miller is the president/CEO of The ESCO Group, a Marion-based company that offers electrical construction, professional engineering, recruiting and safety training/ consulting services. Comments: mikemiller