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tracygehrts@alliantenergy.com

Alliant Energy once again a Top Utility in Economic Development

Alliant Energy was named a Top Utility in Economic Development by Site Selection magazine. The annual list recognized the company for its contribution to community development, job creation and partnerships with institutions of higher learning in the territories the company serves. For the second year in a row, Alliant Energy is the only Iowa energy company to make the list .

“We are guided by our purpose to serve customers and help build strong communities,” said Terry Kouba, President of Alliant Energy’s Iowa energy company. “We partner with the communities we serve, nonprofit organizations and local economic groups to bring our purpose to life.”

Site Selection’s September issue credits Alliant Energy’s economic development team and its collaboration with local, regional and state partners for delivering more than $1.2 billion in new capital investment and more than 2,600 new jobs in Iowa and Wisconsin in 2019. In addition, Alliant Energy’s partnerships with the communities it serves helped bring 44 new industrial, warehouse and office projects to life.

Alliant Energy’s new Community Growth Investment Program provides grants to economic development groups. The funding pays for industrial site certification and also for studies and strategic plans to address issues with the local workforce, housing needs and unique community concerns.

The company also launched a digital manufacturing lab in Ames, Iowa in partnership with the Iowa State University Center for Research and Service (CIRAS) and the Iowa Economic Development Authority. The initiative benefits small and midsize rural Iowa manufacturers, helping to educate them about technologies such as collaborative robots, 3-D printers and advanced vision systems.

“The visibility that comes with being classified as a top utility for the second year in a row again shines a light on all of the great communities we are privileged to serve,” said Scott Drzycimski, Director of Customer, Community and Economic Development. “Our state’s workforce, certified industrial site options and the leadership of our local partners appeal to companies looking for new locations for their industrial projects and investments.”

Site Selection delivers expansion planning information to 45,000 site location consultants and executives of fast-growing firms and is considered the senior publication in the development field. The magazine bases its ranking on a utility’s efforts to cultivate industrial business development, job creation and the populations it serves.

Alliant Energy announces six new solar projects in Wisconsin

Our Clean Energy Blueprint is a strategic roadmap to cost-effectively accelerate renewable energy while reducing carbon emissions. We recently announced plans to acquire and advance 675 megawatts (MW) of solar in mostly rural areas in six Wisconsin counties: Grant, Jefferson, Richland, Rock, Sheboygan and Wood.

Once operational, the energy from the projects will be enough to power 175,000 homes per year – making Alliant Energy the largest owner-operator of solar in Wisconsin. Collectively, these projects are expected to create more than 1,200 local construction jobs, and, once operational, will provide an estimated $80 million in local tax revenues over the next 30 years.

“Solar energy is a smart investment for our Wisconsin customers,” said David de Leon, President of Alliant Energy’s Wisconsin energy company. “At a time when much is changing, these projects will provide steady revenue to Wisconsin communities, create new construction, operation and maintenance jobs, and provide our customers with reliable and sustainable energy for years to come. Along with the rest of the Clean Energy Blueprint, these projects will help customers avoid more than $2 billion in long-term costs.”

State-of-the-art industrial building provides unmatched access to the Midwest

Built in 2017 this 250,000 square foot industrial building is situated on a 27-acre lot in the Dubuque Industrial Center South, the City of Dubuque’s newest industrial park. The expansive facility offers 15 dock doors, 36′ ceiling height, 6” thick concrete floors and features 310 car spaces along with 40 trailer storage capacity. This property conveniently sports energy-efficient lighting, ESFR fire protection along with heavy 3,000-amp, 277/480-Volt, 3-Phase power with a 2500-kV pad mount transformer on site.

The Greater Dubuque area commands a central North American location in the heart of the Midwest, a convenient distance from major urban areas and large consumer markets. The tri-state location of Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois makes it easy to get your product to market. Passing through Dubuque, four-lane U.S. Highways 20 and 151 provide connections to Interstate 80 and 35 in Iowa, Interstate 90 and 74 in Illinois, and Interstate 94 in Wisconsin. Dubuque is strategically located along the Mississippi River, offering area industries the advantage of barge transportation by Logistics Park Dubuque (LPD).

The many advantages that the Dubuque area has to offer have attracted notable industrial blue bloods over the years including, John Deere, Andersen Window & Doors, Medline Industries, Crown Holdings, Georgia Pacific and Hormel.

For additional information about this property, contact Mark Seckman, Senior Business Attraction Manager at 319-270-5081 or markseckman@alliantenergy.com

Manufacturing work moving from Asia to Cedar Rapids, Iowa

General Mills, one of the world’s largest food companies recently completed the installation of additional lines to produce Fruit Gushers at their plant in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The location was chosen for transfer of a line from a closed Asia location. In addition to the Fruit Gushers products, the facility produces Fruit by the Foot, nearly 1 million lbs. per day of Cheerios and Lucky Charms along with 99% of the Betty Crocker frosting goods. The operation in Cedar Rapids has 650 employees and has received nearly $1 billion in capital since 2004.

General Mills remains focused on serving food people love through category-leading brands include Cheerios, Yoplait, Nature Valley, Häagen-Dazs, Betty Crocker, Progresso, Totino’s, Pillsbury, Old El Paso and more.

If Wisconsin were a country, it would rank fourth in the world in cheese production

Cheese producers throughout Wisconsin make significant contributions to the state’s economy by creating jobs and purchasing milk from Wisconsin dairy farmers. Wisconsin cheesemakers make 27% of the nation’s cheese (3.3 billion pounds annually), ranking Wisconsin as the top cheese-producing state.

With such a strong history of cheese production, it is no surprise that Alliant Energy customer Baker Cheese in St. Cloud, Wisconsin was named 2020 Dairy Plant of the Year by national trade publication Dairy Foods. Over the past 17 months, Baker Cheese has been recognized for their innovative manufacturing processes, facility expansions, and progressive work in the industry.

After 104 years in business, Baker Cheese produces what has been recognized as the best string cheese in the United States. The family-owned business competes globally and has become renowned in the industry for its role as a premier supplier of private label string cheese manufacturing services, a producer of retail products, and a company committed to supporting local dairy farmers.

Third local expansion in 14 years for German pharmaceutical ingredient manufacturer

German pharmaceutical excipients manufacturer JRS PHARMA GmbH & Co. KG announced that they will be expanding the U.S. subsidiary’s, JRS Pharma, plant in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The $15.9 million project calls for an increase in production space and associated tank farm. It will add 18 employees to the current 75 staff members.

This is the company’s third expansion since locating to the community in 2006. JRS Pharma is a leader in the manufacturing of excipients, offering a complete portfolio of solutions for the global health science industry. JRS PHARMA GmbH & Co. KG and its subsidiaries have 31 production facilities over four continents.

Defense aerospace facility coming to Cedar Rapids, Iowa

United Kingdom based BAE Systems, Inc. announced that they will be investing $139 million in Cedar Rapids, Iowa to build a new 200,000 square foot classified defense aerospace facility. The 650 new employees will design and manufacture mission-critical GPS receivers that are compliant with military M-Code, anti-jamming, and anti-spoofing requirements.

Construction is planned to start this October with occupation scheduled for September 2022. The City of Cedar Rapids will incentivize the project with infrastructure improvements around the facility and a 75% property tax exemption over 20 years.

BAE Systems is a global defense, aerospace and security company employing 83,100 people worldwide and 30,500 in the United States. The company helps their customers to stay a step ahead when protecting people and national security, critical infrastructure and vital information.

Wisconsin manufacturers answer the call for PPE

Soon after President Trump invoked the Defense Production Act of 1950 in response to the lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for COVID-19, Wisconsin manufacturers got to work.

Monterey Mills in Janesville pivoted from producing knitted pile fabric used in paint rollers to developing reusable, durable protective face masks. The company’s president worked day and night to redesign the factory while at home suffering from COVID-19. The company has now ramped up production to 65,000 masks daily.

Prent Corp. in Janesville manufactures plastic packaging products. The company designed a new face shield made of recycled PETG and foam that could be produced and delivered to hospitals faster than a traditional face shield. Less than 12 hours after they learned about a shortage of face masks at nearby Mercyhealth, Pent Corp had a prototype in the hands of doctors.

Face new challenges with an adaptable workforce

This crisis has shown how innovative, resilient and adaptable the workforce in Wisconsin can be. While the work ethic of the Midwestern worker is well known, our workforce’s ability to adapt, learn new skills and accept new challenges sets them apart. With a foundation of hard work, eagerness to learn and a desire to be successful, they are willing to do what it takes to learn new skills and processes to help their employers succeed. The Midwest has some of the most productive and reliable workers in the nation.

One reason Wisconsin and Iowa workers might be above the national average is the number of people who have received the National Career Readiness Certificate. Both Iowa and Wisconsin rank in the top 10 in both the total number of NCRCs earned and the number earned per capita. The ACT WorkKeys National Career Readiness Certificate is an assessment-based credential issued at four levels. The NCRC measures and certifies the essential work skills needed for success in jobs across industries and occupations. A NCRC credential verifies proficiency in:

  • Problem-solving
  • Critical thinking
  • Reading and using work-related text
  • Applying information from workplace documents to solve problems
  • Applying mathematical reasoning to work-related problems
  • Setting up and performing work-related mathematical calculations
  • Locating, synthesizing and applying information that is presented graphically
  • Comparing, summarizing and analyzing information presented in multiple related graphics

With a higher than average number of career readiness certificates, Alliant Energy is confident that future organizations and employers will be able to tap into the most qualified labor pool.

Building the energy grid of the future

We continue to transform our distribution system into a continuous two-way flow of electricity and digital information. The Integrated Grid includes projects that deliver significant system improvements and leverage new technologies and tools to satisfy emerging customer requirements.

Our grid modernization efforts will offer better power quality and more reliability as well as broader access to clean energy and energy-efficiency options. We will be able to better handle the flow of power and information from customers and the grid.

Moving underground

When we update our distribution systems, we prefer to install underground (UG) cable whenever it’s cost effective and practical. Underground systems have far fewer outages and are safer to the public.

The average minutes per year a customer will be without power is nearly 89% less with underground distribution compared to overhead.

Alliant Energy partner brings companies together to produce face shields

The COVID-19 crisis has temporarily closed the Digital Manufacturing Lab powered by Alliant Energy in Ames. Rather than remain idle, our partner Center for Industrial Research and Service (CIRAS) has used their time and expertise to help companies make a difference.

CIRAS connected two Alliant Energy customers from different parts of the state who teamed up to make tens of thousands of face shields. The Dimensional Group of Mason City makes the front part of the face shields. Angstrom Precision Molding of Ottumwa makes the halos, which is the part workers wear around their head. Both companies are in the Alliant Energy service area.

In addition to connecting the two companies, CIRAS helped to make the project cost-efficient and quick, deploying a 3D printer and digital simulations in the process.

The companies, which had never worked together, are now producing thousands of face shields each week. They sell them to the state of Iowa for $1.25 each. The market price for similar equipment usually is $8 to $10 each. The state buys the equipment to distribute to hospitals and other medical facilities.

Despite their main business being down by 80%, the companies were able to retain their employees to make the face shields. Without Alliant Energy’s support of technology in manufacturing, this pivot might not have been possible. Alliant Energy is the largest private donor to CIRAS.

Alliant Energy has purchased 1,000 of these face shields and donated them to rural hospitals and long-term care facilities across the state of Iowa.