91 jobs could come to Dubuque if Hormel expands there - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

91 jobs could come to Dubuque if Hormel expands there

Progressive Processing, a Hormel subsidiary, has a plant in Dubuque. Progressive Processing, a Hormel subsidiary, has a plant in Dubuque.

Dubuque is pitching a juicy offer to one company looking to grow and create jobs.

Hormel Foods, which already has a plant in Dubuque, wants to expand production of two of its products.

In Dubuque's Industrial Center West lies Progressive Processing, a subsidiary of Minnesota-based Hormel Foods. The company built the more-than-$80 million facility from the ground up, which opened in Dubuque in early 2010.

With Hormel looking to expand, local leaders such as Rick Dickinson, president and CEO of the Greater Dubuque Development Corporation, say Dubuque is the perfect place for that to happen.

"We know that they can go anywhere in the world and be well-received any place else in the world and will be well-incented any place else in the world," Dickinson said. "We believe that Dubuque is the best choice and pulled out the stops. We love this company."

If Hormel chooses Dubuque for the expansion, the company will invest more than $31 million in equipment and improvements at the existing plant and create 91 jobs. In return, the city will tack on five additional years of tax increment financing -- or TIF -- to the existing TIF agreement established when Hormel first came to town.

The expansion incentive would total more than $1.3 million in property tax rebates paid to the company over the course of five years, beginning in fiscal year 2022.

"Tax increment financing, which is often referred to as TIF, is the number-one incentive available to cities and counties to recruit business to their community. Without that, Iowa would be in a big hurt," Dickinson said. "Every year, TIF is under assault by communities that think one community is stealing from another or because some people think that it's the wrong thing to do. Some people define it as corporate welfare and other people define it as picking the difference between winners and losers. The bottom line is, without tax increment financing, there is no economic development and we'll not only not have job growth in Iowa, we'll have reduction in jobs in our state."

He would know. Dickinson has seen TIF incentives draw many companies to Dubuque over the years, which, in turn, have created many jobs in the area.

Existing employers, however, have a lot of potential for growth, too.

"The secret sauce of Dubuque is, we've had a lot of small programs that have resulted in a lot of jobs on a macro level, and that's, I think, the secret for any community," Dickinson said, "It's to not look for the brass ring, but look at all the tremendous potential there is across the board in your community, and so we pay very close attention to existing employers."

He said the Greater Dubuque Development Corporation is always watching the area's existing companies for growth opportunities.

"Tax increment financing is taking the taxes that (a municipality) wouldn't otherwise have that are paid by an employer that expands in your community or builds in your community, and providing that money back to the employer to use for the project," Dickinson explained. "It's giving that which you don't have unless the jobs come, so you're not giving away someone else's money. You're returning to the employer the money they would've otherwise paid in property taxes if they were located here."

Dubuque, however, has significant competition in attracting the Hormel expansion. Not only could Hormel choose to expand out of the country, but it could also pick one of its other U.S. facilities.

Dubuque City Council members will vote at Monday's meeting to approve the submission of a business financial assistance application on behalf of Progressive Processing. If approved, that application will go to the Iowa Economic Development Authority, whose board will consider the application at its next meeting in late November.

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