“A year ago, this project was completely dead,” Cass/Atlantic Development Corporation (CADCO) executive director Russell Joyce said as he remembered the hectic period while the Elite Octane ethanol plant project was being put together in Atlantic. The developers of the proposed $190 million, 50 job plant and the municipal utility had not been able to come to an agreement on electric rates, and everything was off, there would be no ethanol plant in Atlantic.
Then, just as suddenly as it had died, an agreement was reached and everything was back on—and in a huge hurry. This was good news, except for the fact that this major development site, which will handle 1,000 semi-trucks a day, was served on one side by a gravel road.
Plans had been underway for Cass County to pave the road, but when the deal initially fell through, those were shelved. The Iowa Department of Transportation recognized that this would be a great opportunity to utilize R.I.S.E. (Revitalize Iowa’s Sound Economy) funds, but from the time that it was announced that the project was back on track there was only two weeks until the grant deadline. It was at this point that Southwest Iowa Planning Council (SWIPCO) swung into action. Because of the diverse nature of the agency, and the many partners that it works with on a regular basis, SWIPCO was able to quickly pull together information and agreements with the County, the engineering firm, the developer, and the Iowa DOT to develop a R.I.S.E. grant that successfully secured over $2 million to pave the vital access to the ethanol plant site.
SWIPCO executive director John McCurdy said, “We weren’t the driving force behind this project, in fact we rarely are. However, we, as an active and engaged council of governments, sit at a unique crossroads where we have good relationships and partnerships with all of the key players in this process. Coupled with the technical capacity of smart, dedicated staff, we were able to help this project get over the goal line in an efficient manner that I think few entities would be able to do.”
Now, a year after the project “died,” the Elite Octane ethanol plant is nearing completion and already buying corn for delivery this summer—which has already raised the price of corn in the county, which will have long term positive impacts on Cass County and the whole region.
This year we will be doing more with video. I will be doing certain updates by video or interviews with stakeholders on different topics. As there are a lot of issues at the state house this legislative session, one of them may be tax reform. I am interviewing Tom Sands, president/CEO of Iowa Taxpayers Association and former Iowa Representative on what state changes may be in store for us.
The Mid-America Economic Development Council is hosting its 2018 Economic Development Best Practices Conference in Des Moines May 1-3, 2018. Economic developers from across the Midwest will converge for the 2018 Best Practices Conference - presented in partnership by the Mid-America EDC and the Professional Developers of Iowa.
The 2018 Best Practice Conference will take place on May 1st and 3rd, in conjunction with the SMART Conference that will also be held in downtown Des Moines on May 2nd. This conference provides an excellent opportunity to learn from experts about economic development best practices and trends, as well as network with your Midwest colleagues in economic development. The conference schedule and registration information will be released in late February.