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 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:

Modern industrial building in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, delivers a host of opportunities

Looking for an industrial property in the Midwest? This 176,000-square-foot industrial building is new on the market in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. It’s situated on a 78-acre lot near the Eastern Iowa Airport with quick interstate access. Situated in a growing industrial area home to General Mills, Quaker Oats, ADM and BAE Systems, this property features 25-foot clear ceilings with nine dock doors and 8-inch thick floors along with ample room to add outdoor storage or expand.

The Cedar Rapids area is the manufacturing hub of Iowa, commanding a central North American location in the heart of the Midwest, a convenient distance from major urban areas and large consumer markets. This property is strategically located within two miles of I-380, which connects to east–west transcontinental I-80 10 minutes away and I-35, a major cross-country, north-south route. The property is also within minutes of Logistic Park Cedar Rapids (LPCR) offering services that allow shippers to capture the benefits of rails’ economies of scale over long distances with the convenience of “last-mile” truck delivery.

For additional information about the property, contact Mary Meisterling, Manager Business Support and Development Account Management at 319-558-7122 or

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

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.

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.