Projects to add 150 jobs in Council Bluffs with help of Iowa tax incentives

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Posted: Wednesday, April 2, 2014 12:00 am

State tax incentives granted by the Iowa Economic Development Authority will help bring 150 new jobs to Council Bluffs and about $14 million in investments from subsidiaries of Tyson Foods Inc. and Gavilon.

Tyson Fresh Meats Inc. plans to spend $9.5million on new equipment at its pork and beef packing plant at 2700 23rd Ave. The company will add 139 jobs for which it is already hiring and will add a second shift to plant operations.

The project is expected to be finished in late May, and workers will experience no downtime associated with the installation of new equipment, a Tyson spokesman said.

Tyson in 2011 spent $48 million to convert a smaller Council Bluffs facility at 2101 S. 29th St. into a pepperoni plant. The plant has 141 employees.

To qualify for Iowa tax credits of more than $950,000 under the state's Enterprise Zone Program, Tyson must pay wages of nearly $14.81 an hour for 22 of the new jobs. Qualified projects must be located in economically distressed parts of the state and require a minimum $500,000 investment within a three-year period.

The plant currently employs 1,045 employees.

Meanwhile, Gavilon Ingredients LLC plans to build a $4.5million animal feed handling facility in Council Bluffs.

The company declined to provide specifics on the project, which was approved under the state's High Quality Jobs Program. It received $252,000 in investment tax credits and sales, service and use tax refunds from the state in addition to a full, three-year tax abatement from Council Bluffs worth about $300,000.

The High Quality Jobs Program is not available for retail businesses and has higher wage requirements than the Enterprise Zone Program.

According to the state economic development organization, the Gavilon project will result in 11 jobs when construction is complete. Nine of those jobs will pay a qualified wage of $19.75 an hour.

Gavilon is in talks to secure a location for the project near the intermodal terminal owned by Iowa Interstate Railroad at 2722 South Ave. off Harry Langdon Boulevard, according to local economic development officials familiar with the project.

Both projects are reliant on local manufacturing and logistics prowess, two of the region's top strengths identified in a 2012 economic study by the University of Northern Iowa and the Institute for Decision Making, said Mike Dellinger, executive director of Advance Southwest Iowa Corp. Advance Southwest facilitates economic development in and around Council Bluffs and is a member of the Greater Omaha Economic Development Partnership.

Among other strengths, the report noted Council Bluffs' “ideal” transportation infrastructure for both warehousing and distribution.

“The Gavilon project fits right into (those strengths),” Dellinger said.

The intermodal terminal is situated near the confluence of Interstate 29 and Interstate 80 and the facility's owner and operator has a contract to move containers with Omaha-based Union Pacific Railroad. That would give Gavilon, a commodities trading firm with global headquarters in Omaha, the infrastructure it needs to move products around the world.

Bob Mundt, president and chief executive officer of the Council Bluffs Chamber of Commerce, praised the timing of the projects, which come about one month after Griffin Pipe Products declared it would shutter its Council Bluffs plant.

About 250 employees worked there.

Mundt said “several” other Council Bluffs manufacturers are also growing, including ConAgra, truck equipment manufacturer Omaha Standard and advanced manufacturer Ellison Technologies.

“Those are all continually growing and expanding,” Mundt said, “so eventually, we can take up some of the slack that Griffin has brought to the market.”

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