State, Mills County Officials Stress Commitment to Economic Development at Groundbreaking

State and local elected officials joined Mills County economic development leaders last week to celebrate the groundbreaking for a multi-phased, agriculture-based logistics project planned in northwest Mills County.

Wisconsin-based WSI (Warehouse Specialists) announced plans to build the facility on a 43-acre site southeast of the Interstate 29 / Highway 370 (Bunge Ave.) interchange. The first phase of the project will be a 137,500 square-foot distribution center for Syngenta Crop Protection, a global ag leader that plans to use the facility for Midwest distribution and to support an existing plant in Omaha with the storage of chemicals, raw materials and packaging items.

Chad McCollester, an agriculture professional and spokesperson for the Mills County Economic Development Foundation, called Syngenta “a leader in the ag industry” that will not only provide jobs for southwest Iowans, but also serve as a resource for the farm community.

“To have a logistics center here in our backyard to where they can serve our ag suppliers and ag retailers quickly and efficiently will hopefully save some headaches when Mother Nature gives us an opportunity to get some work done in the field,” McCollester said. Iowa Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg was among the dignitaries in attendance and said he and Gov. Kim Reynolds are encouraged to see private investment going on in southwest Iowa, particularly in Mills County where this year’s Missouri River flooding delivered a major economic blow.

“It’s great to see private industry express this kind of confidence in our business environment, in our economy, in our local infrastructure, but most of all in our people,” Gregg said. “The people of southwest Iowa have shown such incredible resiliance over the course of the past six, seven, eight months. It’s nice to see good positive news and a vote of confidence.”

WSI spokesperson Bob Schroeder said the Mills County location was one of many given consideration for the project.

“We searched basically from the other side of Iowa to as far north as Minnesota and South Dakota and all the way down to Oklahoma,” he said. “We narrowed the search down and identified this region as a place we’d like to go. We identified a couple others also, but the real difference we found is the people.”

Schroeder said Mills County’s response to the spring flooding influenced WSI’s decision to come to the region.

“Most projects would have either been put on hold or just dead in the water,” he said. “But, what we found is that the people here were willing to pull up the boots and have at it and keep going. That spoke volumes to us as an organization and me personally. It just gave me more resolve that this was the spot to do it.”

Mills County Economic Development Director Rick Allely said agriculture-based companies are a natural fit for Mills County.

“We are in the heart of agriculture and agriculture is our biggest industry in Mills County,” he said. “Mills County Economic Development has had agriculture at the top of our target industries.”

Gregg and Allely both said they’re optimistic WSI’s investment in Mills County and southwest Iowa will lead to future consideration and development in the region from other companies.

The Opinion-Tribune

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