Week of April 22, 2002
Blockbuster Deal of the Week
from Site Selection's exclusive New Plant database
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Northern Iowa Bags Winnebago's 300-Employee PlantBy JACK LYNE,
Site Selection Executive Editor of Interactive Publishing
'Added Utilization' of Existing FacilitiesAmong those interested hard workers was Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, who personally lobbied to land the assembly plant.
In the end, though, the site search team parked Winnebago's project on some very familiar turf. The company had recently located two component manufacturing plants in Charles City. One of those operations opened in 1999, the other last year.
"Charles City has been an excellent partner for Winnebago Industries. We couldn't be more pleased with the success of our two current facilities, our excellent work force and the great relationship we have with the Charles City community," said Hertzke.
Winnebago also liked the area's labor availability, company officials said. Floyd County recorded a 7.5 percent unemployment rate - third highest in the state - in February (the latest month for which statistics are available). Neighboring counties' rates are only slightly lower.
"We will also recognize some benefits from the added utilization of our other Charles City facilities nearby," Hertzke added in explaining Winnebago's choice.
The new plant will be located in Southwest Development Park on a 25-acre (10-hectare) site. That tract lies adjacent to Winnebago's two existing component plants. With the three operations' close configuration, components will travel only a matter of feet before becoming part of the final assembly process.
Provides Smooth Ride Home Another major location plus, Hertzke added, was the area's "proven transportation network for access to and from our other Iowa facilities."
The new assembly operation will lie alongside what's been dubbed "the Avenue of the Saints" - a moniker that reflects the route's connecting linkage between St. Louis and St. Paul. Construction work on the Avenue of the Saints has widened U.S. Highways 18 and 218. Significantly, those roads connect Charles City with Forest City, the Iowa town some 66 miles (106 km.) away that's home to Winnebago's headquarters.
The Charles City deal is not quite done, though. "The site selection is contingent upon final approval of grants and other incentives from the community, county and state," Winnebago officials noted. Neither government officials nor Winnebago officials would comment on pending incentives for the project.
Plant construction will begin after the incentives have been approved, Winnebago said. The company expects the facility to be complete in late 2002 or early 2003.
The operation will assemble 3,000 to 4,000 motor homes a year when it reaches full capacity. Winnebago will make either its Class A or Class C line at the Charles City plant, company officials said.
Editor's note: Watch for more on Iowa in the state's spotlight section
in the upcoming July issue of Site Selection.
©2002 Conway Data, Inc. All rights reserved. Data is from many sources and is not warranted to be accurate or current.