Letter to the editor: PEDI backs factory expansions

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In the Progressive Foundry growth plan, the company would buy the Wiese Industries property west of Third Street, close Second Street between Bateman and Rawson streets and building two new buildings on the property.


This is the July 16, 2019, letter from the Perry Economic Development Inc. President Deb Lucht to Perry Community and Economic Development Director Mike Fastenau. –Ed.

Dear Mr. Fastenau,

The purpose of this letter is to express Perry Economic Development Inc. (PEDI) strong support for the Progressive Foundry and Wiese Industries expansion projects made public at the July 9, 2019 Joint Workshop.

We’d also care to impress upon the board how incredibly important these expansion projects are to the growth and prosperity of these businesses and relatedly to its citizens, growing the local economy and expanding the tax base of the city.

At PEDI’s July 11, 2019 board meeting, the board unanimously adopted the following resolution of support for these projects:

PEDI fully and strongly supports the Progressive Foundry and Wiese Industries 2019 Expansion Projects as presented to the City of Perryfor good economic development and community safety reasons, moved, seconded and unanimously adopted on July 11, 2019.

PEDI would like to highlight the significance of this project on the Perry Community.

1. Jobs, Jobs, Jobs — The VanKirks have indicated that the approval of the projects as planned will result in the addition of 10-15 new, good-paying (∼$25/Hour + benefits), blue-collar, full-time jobs over the next 5 years. Wiese Industries will add additional 10-15 new jobs of its own as it brings a production line in Cleveland back to Perry. An increase in workforce of this magnitude will impact all facets of the local economy including an expanded need for housing, retail goods and city services, many from people that will need to move into the community from other cities. These semi-skilled manufacturing jobs are highly coveted by many cities, counties and states and we have an opportunity to add them in Perry.

2. Increased Tax Base — The passage of this project in its current form will result in a significant increase to Perry’s industrial tax base with the addition of 1.) a 12K sq. ft. building to house Progressive Foundry’s new employee training center and offices, 2.) a 22K sq. ft. building for Progressive Foundry to move production of a core process to Perry and 3.) a 30K sq. ft. building Wiese Industries will build to house additional production lines. In economic development terms, most cities, counties and states would throw incredible incentives to these employers for expansion projects of this magnitude (or to have the companies relocate), however, both companies are funding their projects from business cash flow.

3. Good Corporate Citizens — Both Progressive Foundry and Wiese Industries have been very philanthropic corporate citizens. The VanKirk Family has generously donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Perry community to make Perry a better place to live and work for its residents’ by substantially investing in DMACC Career Academy, Raccoon River Valley and High Trestle Connector Bike Trails, Dewey Field Revitalization and countless others. Their continued economic support over generations has made a real and positive impact upon the lives of our citizens and they’ve asked for nothing in return. The Wiese Foundation alone endows Perry with hundreds of thousands of dollars annually that are used by many charitable groups in Perry.

4. Citizen Safety is Paramount — As most Perry residents are aware, due to Progressive Foundry’s thriving business, the amount of semi-truck and forklift traffic is incredible and presents a clear and present danger to the public’s usage of 2 nd street as a through street. Closing 2 nd to thru traffic will limit the potential perils and related liability for all parties as citizens will be forced to choose safer alternatives than meandering through a high-functioning industrial business’s shipping and production departments.

PEDI devotes thousands of volunteer hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to stimulating growth in Perry. The Progressive Foundry and Wiese Industries 2019 Expansion Projects have the unique ability to improve this community in remarkable ways with very little actual expense incurred.

Closing Second Street is the lynchpin that will allow two of Perry’s finest manufacturers to grow, expand and compete in today’s hyper-competitive global economy. I would be remiss if I didn’t remind the Perry Planning and Zoning Board and the Perry City Council of how momentous this vote to approve really is. PEDI asks each board member and councilor to weigh the benefits of this decision in jobs, growth and safety against inconvenience and vote with your heart to affirm these projects.

Sincerely,

Debra Lucht, President
Perry Economic Development Inc.

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