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Johnsonville expanding Sheboygan County Wisconsin operations

Johnsonville headquarters sign

Johnsonville headquarters signJohnsonville, the top brand of sausage in America, is expanding operations in Sheboygan County, Wisconsin, with the purchase of a 200,000-square-foot facility that had been Wigman Mills headquarters. The sausage company will use the space to innovate new cooking methods and increase production of its fully cooked sausage products.

Johnsonville plans to modify the building for sausage production in 2021 and begin operations in early 2022. The $35 million project will add 75 new jobs to their current 2,000 team members. Johnsonville products are available in all 50 states and more than 45 countries, including China, Philippines, Singapore, Korea, Japan, Mexico and Canada.

Wigwam is relocating its headquarters, manufacturing and outlet store to Sheboygan’s northside.

Japan’s Spiber Inc. announces new production operation in Clinton, Iowa

ADM Clinton, IA
ADM Clinton, IA

Image credit: https://www.clintondevelopment.com/ 

Spiber, a Japan-based biotech company that produces lab-grown proteins, has announced its first facility in the U.S will be in Clinton, Iowa. The operations will expand production of its plant-based polymers, such as spider silk used in clothing and other consumer products. Spiber is partnering with ADM to deploy state-of-the-art technology to Clinton County.

Spiber produces biobased, biodegradable protein polymers for use in apparel, auto parts and other products. For example, the company teamed up with The North Face Japan to release a line of jackets made with Spiber’s Brewed Protein™ polymers, which are produced through a plant-based fermentation process, spun into fibers and woven into fabric. Spiber’s technology has gained attention as a platform to generate alternative fibers to nylon and other petroleum-based materials, as well as animal fibers with high carbon footprints.

“Iowa has a deep understanding of the positive impact potential of projects like ours and has created an environment that is conducive to success,” said Daniel Meyer, president of Spiber America LLC.

The $101.4 million project in Clinton stems from a relationship between Spiber and Iowa that started with the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) years ago and solidified during Governor Kim Reynolds’ trade mission to Japan last year.

Four mid-size manufacturers see continued growth in Iowa

worker welding
worker welding

Image credit: XL Specialized Trailers

XL Specialized Trailers plans a $7.5 million expansion project that will add 55,000 square feet to its facility to their facility in Manchester. The company is a market-leading manufacturer of heavy haul and specialized trailers, XL offering superior hauling solutions for the construction, commercial, agriculture, oil and gas, wind energy and custom transportation industries.

ProPulse, a company specializing in the manufacturing of high-pressure hoses used in pressure washers, agricultural machinery and a variety of other products, recently broke ground on a 20,000-square-foot addition to its facility in Peosta. ProPulse is one of the largest high-pressure hose manufacturers in North America, producing over 1.5 million custom high-pressure hose assemblies per year.

In Tolerance, a 73-year-old company in Cedar Rapids, is expanding its facility to bring home operations currently being outsourced to other states. The company is a leader in precision custom-machined stainless steel, aluminum and plastic components and assemblies for a wide variety of applications, primarily for the commercial and military aerospace market, along with the medical, communications and food processing industries.

Lely North America Inc., part of a global manufacturer of automated dairy equipment based in the Netherlands, celebrated the start of construction of its new 100,000-square-foot headquarters in Pella. The facility will be used to produce their flagship Astronaut brand milking robot. Many people outside the dairy industry aren’t aware that tens of thousands of robotic milking machines are already operating globally. The opportunity for new market penetration is significant in North America, where the technology has not as quickly been adopted.

In total these projects have a capital investment of over $34 million while creating nearly 110 new jobs.

Alliant Energy Iowa Clean Energy Blueprint

Terry Kouba, President Alliant Energy - Iowa, Alliant Energy Marshalltown employees and community members join to cut the ribbon at the Marshalltown Solar Garden and Battery Project.

Terry Kouba, President Alliant Energy - Iowa, Alliant Energy Marshalltown employees and community members join to cut the ribbon at the Marshalltown Solar Garden and Battery Project.

More than 9,500 solar panels now generate clean energy at Alliant Energy’s new Marshalltown Solar Garden. This pilot project combines solar power and a battery to generate, store and deliver electricity to customers.

The Marshalltown Solar Garden sits next to Alliant Energy’s Marshalltown Generating Station.

“This solar-battery combination allows us to provide our customers with solar power during the day and night,” Terry Kouba, president of Alliant Energy Iowa, stated in a release. “The solar field adds power to the grid when the sun is shining and then our battery allows our customers to continue using this renewable energy resource in the evening when the sun isn’t shining.”

The 2.55-MW AC solar system in Marshalltown can power nearly 400 homes. With full sun, the solar panels can also fully charge the 548kWh battery within two hours. When discharged, the battery can power nearly 200 homes for two hours. The solar garden became operational in mid-February and the battery was just put into service this week.

The company has three battery sites in Iowa, and each is being used to pilot different combinations of solar power and energy storage technology. The Marshalltown battery is the company’s first battery that’s directly connected to a utility-sized solar field.

Alliant Energy also has two Dubuque solar gardens, which have been generating clean energy for customers since 2017.

Image caption: Terry Kouba, President Alliant Energy – Iowa, Alliant Energy Marshalltown employees and community members join to cut the ribbon at the Marshalltown Solar Garden and Battery Project.

More solar power in Alliant Energy’s Wisconsin pipeline

sun shining on solar panels

sun shining on solar panelsAlliant Energy recently purchased two more Wisconsin solar projects. These facilities will produce enough power for 30,000 Wisconsin homes per year. The 65-megawatt Paddock and 50-megawatt Albany solar projects are both expected to break ground in 2022 and be in service by the end of 2023. Alliant bought the solar facilities from Capital Dynamics, and they were developed by Tenaska, one of the largest private independent energy companies in the U.S.

“We are excited to add these projects to our renewable portfolio and proud to be delivering cleaner energy while investing in local communities,” said Ben Lipari, Director of Resource Development. “Through our purpose-driven strategy, these projects represent continued investment where we have long-standing partnerships with local businesses and community leaders. The partnership between Capital Dynamics and Tenaska has these projects well-positioned for success.”

Alliant Energy reaches milestone, completes 1000 MW of wind in Iowa

Alliant Energy completed its plan to add 1,000 megawatts of wind production in Iowa, several months ahead of schedule and within budget. This achievement comes as the company completes its 130-MW Richland Wind Farm in Sac County, located in west-central Iowa.

The now operational wind farm is among five wind projects across seven counties in the state. Collectively, the projects provide Iowa customers and communities with new renewable energy and are expected to provide power to approximately 430,000 Iowa homes.

“Continuing to advance cost-effective and clean energy will benefit our customers, the communities we serve and the environment for decades to come,” said Terry Kouba, President of Alliant Energy’s Iowa energy company. “Investing in renewable energy sources, like wind and solar, is one more way that our purpose – to serve customers and build strong communities – comes to life.”

Completing the Richland Wind project expands the company’s total of owned and operated wind generation in the state to nearly 1,300 total MW. This investment in wind energy for Iowa customers generates significant financial benefits through tax revenue for communities and lease payments to landowners.

“Thank you to the many leaders throughout the state who have helped us deliver more renewable energy to our customers,” added Kouba. “With wind, because there are no associated fuel costs, our investment in this renewable, natural resource provides long-term savings for our customers. At the same time, we’ll continue delivering safe, reliable and affordable energy to the communities we serve.”

Alliant Energy began construction on the Richland Wind Farm in July 2019 and is now the third largest utility owner-operator of regulated wind in the United States. The company reached a significant milestone over a two-day period in March 2020 when it generated enough renewable wind energy to meet all its Iowa customers’ energy needs from its owned wind farms and wind purchase power agreements.

Alliant Energy’s wind projects keep the company on its path toward achieving their new, aspirational goal of eliminating COemissions from the energy the company generates by 2050, a goal that’s outlined in the company’s latest Corporate Responsibility Report.

For more information on Alliant Energy’s wind development, visit alliantenergy.com/wind.

Small- to mid-size communities becoming talent magnets

Coronavirus continues to play a significant role in our personal and professional lives. With more companies requiring employees to work from home to help decrease the spread and infection rate of COVID-19, many companies are questioning if these employees will need to be physically in the office in the future. The result of more people working from home than ever before is that more people are looking to relocate from urban, high-density environments to the open, low-cost living of our rural communities.

Beginning around 2016, the top criteria for expansion location was workforce. Many communities served by Alliant Energy could not keep up with the job demands, let alone a new industrial company looking for hundreds of employees. Local economic development organizations and chambers of commerce were tasked with the difficult question of where a company would find 100, even 500 new employees in a market with sub 4% unemployment.

With more professionals leaving the urban environment, rural communities will once again have ample access to an educated and full workforce population that can satisfy both existing and future industrial and commercial employers. A recent article in CNN Business reported that signed contracts of condos and co-ops in Manhattan plunged nearly 60% in July, while contracts for single family homes in areas outside of New York skyrocketed. Norfolk County outside of Boston saw a 38% increase in new contracts for single family homes in July and Marin County outside of San Francisco saw a 77% increase over last year.

Nearly 40% of adults living in urban areas indicated they would consider moving “out of populated areas and towards rural areas,” according to a recent survey of 2,050 adults nationwide conducted by the Harris poll. “As ripe breeding grounds of coronavirus, dense cities now have a new challenge in keeping their residents, many of whom had already begun to find rapidly rising rents and job market changes less appealing,” US News reports.

Whether it is for a quality of life upgrade, a lower cost of living or the need for a larger home to accommodate the new remote work environment, people are moving to rural America in large numbers. The next thing to come: a surge in employment opportunities from business expansions and relocations who continue their search for top talent.

Sources: “Survey: Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic, Urbanites Are Eyeing the Suburbs and These people have left big cities for good. Here’s where they landed

Construction underway at Logistics Park Cedar Rapids

Travero, the premier logistics solutions company affiliated with Alliant Energy, announces construction is under way at Logistics Park Cedar Rapids (LPCR). The facility is built on a 101-acre site Fairfax, southwest of Cedar Rapids, and is scheduled to open in September 2021.

LPCR is being constructed within Alliant Energy’s Big Cedar Industrial Center, Iowa’s first certified mega-site, which includes 1,391 acres of space available for development.

Once complete, the new park will offer logistics services that will allow industries within Iowa and throughout the Midwest to benefit from road and rail connections. These services include warehousing, the ability to efficiently transfer commodities between rail and truck and other customized options.

“The facility will include a 259,000 square foot rail-served warehouse that will allow customers to distribute, consolidate or store goods in creative ways,” said Jeff Woods, Director of Business Development at Travero. “Logistics Park Cedar Rapids will also support development opportunities for Big Cedar Industrial Center that will bring new businesses to the area. We’re excited for the facility to help further growth for the community and offer much-needed amenities that will benefit customers.”

LPCR is in an easy-to-access location for both road and rail to benefit trucking and rail customers. It’s located five miles from the U.S. Highway 30/Interstate 380 interchange. The facility provides direct access to the national rail network via the affiliated Cedar Rapids and Iowa City Railway Company (CRANDIC). Ports on the Mississippi River are also in close proximity. In addition, the park is just north of the Eastern Iowa Airport.

Travero, formerly Alliant Energy Transportation, includes Travero Logistics, CRANDIC Rail and Logistics Park Dubuque. Visit travero.com for more information.

Battery project makes room for more rooftop solar in Decorah, Iowa

Clean solar energy is a good thing. Plus, it can positively affect the performance and efficiency of the electric grid. An innovative battery-storage solution in Decorah, Iowa, jointly supported by Alliant Energy, U.S. Department of Energy and the Iowa Economic Development Authority, looks to seamlessly connect customer-owned solar, while maintaining reliable electrical service across the community.

“This battery project is a game-changer in Decorah,” said Terry Kouba, Senior Vice President – Operations. “We’re installing it on a circuit that’s near capacity for solar. Using batteries can add critical capacity and may save our customers money, because a battery costs a fraction of the total to upgrade our system.”

The 2.5-MW, 2.922-MWh battery will serve as an “electron bank” to store excess solar power. It will store energy generated when the sun is most powerful and then release it in the evening, when demand for electricity peaks. Lessons learned from the Decorah pilot will inform similar future battery projects.

The Decorah energy storage project is expected to be complete and in service by the end of 2020. It will be our third battery storage project in Iowa.

Learn more about this project: Alliant Energy storage project will let Iowa town add more rooftop solar

Metal fabrication booming in Iowa

The global metal fabrication market is expected to grow at a rate of 3%, reaching $21.38 billion by 2024, and Iowa companies continue to grab their share of the growth. To better achieve operational synergies and global competitiveness, four equipment manufacturers served by Alliant Energy recently announced operation expansions.

In total, these state-of-the-art fabrication companies will create over 100 new jobs and invest in excess of $16 million in plant expansions and new metal forming, fabricating, welding and finishing equipment. Skilled workers of these firms will produce attachments for skid-steer loaders, excavators, industrial tractors, industrial and agriculture trailers, along with grain-handling equipment.

Learn more about these projects: