Percival Scientific, USDA announce big Perry expansion

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Celebrating Tuesday's announcement of a major expansion of the Percival Scientific factory in Perry were, from left, USDA Rural Development Iowa State Director Grant Menke, Minburn Communications CEO Deb Lucht, Percival Scientific President and CEO Gary Wheelock, Central Iowa Power Cooperative CEO Bill Cherrier, Iowa Area Development Group Senior Vice President Bruce Nuzum, Central Iowa Power Cooperative Director of Growth Strategies Cheri Monahan and Central Iowa Power Cooperative Board of Directors President Paul Heineman.

Percival Scientific, the Perry manufacturer of high-end incubators and plant growth chambers, announced Tuesday a $2 million expansion of its factory footprint, adding about 60% more production space to its current 50,000-square-foot facility and creating about a dozen new jobs in Perry.

Financing for the expansion comes in the form of two zero-interest, $1 million loans from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant (REDLG) program. The loans will pass through Minburn Communications and the Central Iowa Power Cooperative (CIPCO), organizations poised to assist Percival Scientific in purchasing equipment and building the electrical and high-speed internet infrastructure for the larger facility.

Gary Wheelock, president and CEO of Percival Scientific, welcomed the company’s project partners to the Perry plant Tuesday for a ceremonial check presentation. Celebrating the economic expansion were USDA Rural Development Iowa State Director Grant Menke, Minburn Communications CEO Deb Lucht, CIPCO Director of Growth Strategies Cheri Monahan, Iowa Area Development Group (IADG) President Rand Fisher,¬†CIPCO CEO Bill Cherrier, IADG Senior Vice President Bruce Nuzum, CIPCO Board of Directors President Paul Heineman, Perry Mayor John Andorf and Perry Economic Development Inc. President Tom Burkgren.

“We’re gathered here today at Percival Scientific in Perry, Iowa, to celebrate a program, to celebrate projects, to celebrate partnerships and to celebrate people,” said Menke, who happens to be the brother of Perry Elementary School Principal Ned Menke. Grant Menke described some of the boons to local economies and communities brought by the REDLG program funds.

“Under the REDLG program,” Menke said, “USDA is able to provide funding to local utility organizations, such as rural electric cooperatives, rural telephone cooperatives and municipal utilities through 10-year, zero-interest loans, which are then passed through to local businesses, nonprofits and public bodies for projects that will create or enhance job opportunities, such as business expansions, equipment purchases, financing new buildings, technical assistance, working capital, business incubators, health care facilities and a whole host of other purposes.”

Wheelock thanked Menke and the other project partners for attending and facilitating the REDLG funding. He said the additional 33,000 square feet of new space on the north side of the current building will allow the company to increase its production by 60% and add 10 or more employees to its current 80-person workforce.

“Construction on the building will start as soon as possible,” Wheelock said, “with an anticipated completion date sometime in the late summer or early fall of 2021.” He said the 100-year-old Percival Scientific company has wanted to expand for some time, but the $2 million REDLG loans tipped the scale.

“These two awards made the decision to proceed with our expansion really a no-brainer,” he said. “As thrilled as we were about this type of program from the USDA, it was even more exciting to learn that since we are served by two different rural utilities — Guthrie County REC for electrical power and Minburn Communications for phone and internet service — we were actually able to apply for two USDA loans. Thanks don’t begin to convey how grateful we are to the USDA for offering the REDLG program and that they saw the value in our expansion project and awarded us both loans.”

Along with the northward expansion, Percival Scientific also has its long-term growth in view, Wheelock said, and the Perry Economic Development Inc. recently helped the company acquire 10 acres of land on the west side of its current 5.5-acre parcel with a view to future development.

“Although originally not part of our expansion needs,” he said, “we realized that we would probably have a need for additional land. Based on those discussions, Percival Scientific has agreed to buy 10 acres directly to the west of our current facility for future expansion needs. Perry Economic Development Inc. is providing us with a $75,000 grant to help offset the cost of the land. The city of Perry will also be providing us with tax increment financing on our current expansion, so a special thanks to both for continuing assistance as we continue to look to grow here in Perry, Iowa.”

Following brief speeches of congratulations by several of the project’s other partners, a tour of the Percival Scientific production floor was led by Wheelock and Percival Scientific Vice President of Production Jesse Smith.

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