Lee County Fertilizer Plant Groundbreaking - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Lee County Fertilizer Plant Groundbreaking

Updated: Nov 19, 2012 10:25 PM CST

The Iowa Fertilizer Company broke ground Monday on a $1.2-billion project in Southeastern Iowa.

The fertilizer plant is in an area that desperately needs jobs and has the state's highest unemployment rate. The plant will be in the Lee County town of Wever, which is about 8-miles south of Burlington.

"This has been a heavily industrialized area, so we've lost the old traditional steel mills and others. We've always been behind the curve as far as unemployment rate," says Steve Bisenius, Executive Director of the Lee County Economic Development Group.

The unemployment rate is currently around 9% and it's about to get worse.

"Once the Siemens people leave it will be closer to 10%," adds Bisenius.

The Siemens Wind Power plant recently announced it is cutting production and laying off more than 400 workers. However, bull dozers at the fertilizer plant site are the first sign that things are starting to change.

"This is a major improvement to our economic output," says Lee County Supervisor Larry Kruse.

Work has begun on the Iowa Fertilizer Company's new fertilizer plant.

"So often it comes so close and never gets there, but this is one of the projects which is happening all the way around," says Bisenius.

The plant is the largest single capital investment in Iowa history. The $1.2-billion project will bring 165 full time jobs.

"We expect it to have a $200-million per year impact on the local economy," adds Supervisor Kruse, "The Farm Bureau says it will have about a $740-million impact per year on the Iowa economy,"

Construction work on the plant will last a long time.

Bisenius adds, "It's such a big project it will take about 35-months to totally construct it."

The fertilizer plant will be up and running in the summer of 2015. The Iowa Fertilizer Company, which is the subsidiary of an Egyptian company, received $57-million in tax incentives.