The Perry Industrial Park’s much anticipated attainment of certified-site status was announced today by Gov. Terry Branstad at a Des Moines press conference. The city of Woodward also was approved as a candidate for Green Certification as a sustainable certified site.
Site certification is a form of fast-track pre-approval of an industrial parcel, assuring potential buyers the site is properly annexed, zoned, equipped with utilities and transportation infrastructure and meets other qualifications.
Perry’s industrial tract is the third site in Dallas County to gain certification in the three-year-old program of the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA). The Van Meter Vision Park and Dexter West Metro Interstate and Rail Park were certified last year.
“This will be another good spotlight for Perry,” said Perry City Administrator Sven Peterson. “It will put us on a little bit larger scope of people looking at us, so hopefully that helps us attract some new industry and helps build that base for us.”
The process of acquiring site certification took the Perry Industrial Park about three years and involved the combined efforts of the IEDA, the city of Perry, the Perry Economic Development and Perry Industries development groups, the Greater Dallas County Development Alliance and private parties such as Stine Seed.
An early step in the process required expanding the size of the 60-acre Perry Industrial Park. About 270 acres of farmland owned by Midwest Oilseed and Stine Seed and lying adjacent to the Perry Industrial Park was voluntarily annexed into the city of Perry last May and is presumably now available to a buyer.
The expansion brought the industrial park into the one of the IEDA’s four classes of industrial site: the general industrial park of 50 to 249 acres, the large site of 250 to 499 acres, the super site of 500 to 999 acres and the mega site of 1,000 acres or more.
At a little more than 330 acres, Perry’s park qualifies as an IEDA large industrial park.
“This is great news,” said Bill Clark, a member of Perry Industries and Perry Economic Development. “It’s something we’ve worked toward for quite a while. It’s like getting a preferred status when someone contacts the state in relation to wanting to find a building, to relocate a company. Having a certified site status just circumvents a lot of the planning and pre-work that needs to be done in order to locate a company. It just makes us more ready.”
Branstad announced six new certified sites today.
“Creating jobs and increasing family incomes for Iowans is my administration’s top priority,” Branstad said. “With the announcement that six additional Iowa sites have gone through a rigorous certification process to be considered ‘development-ready,’ we are moving Iowa to the top of the list for projects that are looking for a home. Those projects mean more Iowa jobs.”
Data centers, manufacturing companies and agribusinesses are especially keen in their use of site selectors now, according to the IEDA, and some of the economy’s biggest players, such as Google and Facebook, have shown their interest in Iowa’s certified sites, particularly sustainable sites with wind or solar power elements.
Branstad also announced the Woodward Eco Business Park has been selected as the pilot site for the new Green Certification program, a form of sustainable certified site status. The 463-acre Woodward site lies at the junction of Iowa Highway 141 and Iowa Highway 210. About 150 acres will be certified for business development, with the rest given to support services and housing.
“This pilot project is a first of its kind in the nation and will put Woodward on the map,” said Woodward Mayor Brian Devick. “A key point of this new category is the requirement to develop and adopt covenants that will provide strong guidance for the future development of the Green Business Park. We are very excited to start the process of the new certification.”
Craig DeHoet, a member of both Woodward Economic Development and the Woodward City Council, said, “This new classification of ‘green certification’ recognizes the importance of reducing the environmental impact of development. The diversification this will provide to the Woodward economy is something we have planned and dreamed of for years.”
According to the governor’s announcement, the entire Woodward site, business and residential, will adhere to standards of sustainable development. Former Perry City Administrator Butch Niebuhr explained the difference between a certified and a sustainable certified site.
“The idea with a sustainable site is that it’ll have probably a solar presence and could have a wind presence,” Niebuhr said. “So how they handle their water, waste water and all that, with bioswails for storm water runoff–there are a lot of considerations with a sustainable certified site.”
The Perry Industrial Park might also potentially be reclassified a sustainable certified site, Niebuhr said.
“Sustainability is something that comes up on all these sites. Even in our case, looking at wind turbines being there, a lot of these companies that are coming in, especially on the high-tech end, are looking for sustainable communities, communities that are using their resources in a conservative way.”
The goal, according to local landowners and developers, is to attract new businesses and new jobs to Perry’s certified site. Doing so would enrich the landowners and developers, in the first place, and also increase the property tax base and revenues for cities and school distrcts.
While more money for city services and for the schools is one important consequence, there would be trickle-down effects for all Perry and Woodward residents as well, proponents say. More jobs mean more money circulating in the local economy, which is good for retail traders and service-sector workers all around, they say.
And economic growth in one place often sets in motion a broader growth cycle, with one new factory or assembly plant or data center leading to others. The Des Moines metro has recently attracted companies like Facebook, Google and Microsoft, and Perry are Woodward poised to share in similar economic development.