New fertilizer plant opens in Lee County, Iowa

WEVER, Iowa (KWQC) - A new fertilizer plant has opened up its doors in Lee County, Iowa, a $3 billion project that's been in the works for a long time.

The Iowa fertilizer company will provide more farmers in the Midwest with a stable high quality and domestic source fertilizer, the first of its kind in Iowa in more than 25 years. The plant has also employed over 3,500 construction workers and hired more than 200 full time employees with an annual payroll of $25 million.

Governor Terry Branstad and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds both attended the new facility's ribbon cutting ceremony Wednesday. Residents from around the region say the plant has given them much needed comfort and stabilization for the local economy.

"We've witnessed a lot of economic benefits from this plant being built here; even as far south as Keokuk we've witnessed a lot of people coming in and purchasing going on and see a bump in our local option sales taxes, so we're very happy," said Aaron Burnett, the Keokuk City Administrator.

"Throughout the last five years, they talked about the 3,500--what I'm gonna call--transient employees--that have come and gone throughout our region--that they've added not only through the hotel motel tax while they stayed here, but just the economic build up for gas taxes or whatever else to buy locally," said economic developer of Fort Madison Tim Gobble.

Both the Governor and Lt. Governor say they are more than confident the new plant will provide more growth to the local economy for years to come after a rough patch of unemployment rates in Lee County.

Plant managers say unemployment has dropped from 8 percent to 5 point 3 percent in Lee County since this project started.