Building Business: More than 400 jobs coming to Oelwein - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Building Business: More than 400 jobs coming to Oelwein

by Danielle Wagner

OELWEIN (KWWL) Hub City. That's what Oelwein used to be as a railroad town, and what community leaders hope can happen again with new kinds of jobs.

"What we're trying to do is move into new areas that bring higher wage jobs and ideally opportunities that get young people to stay here," said Oelwein Mayor Larry Murphy.

In the last 20 months, Oelwein has secured six businesses and more than 400 jobs. Two companies, Ashley Industrial Molding and Abraxis Bio Science, are the latest additions.

Community leaders said one the keys to this business success is investing in the town.

"We've improved the product we're selling and during the last 18 months we've had amazing success and some of it was luck, but a lot of it was work in the community," said Business Development Board Chair Gene Fuelling.

Fuelling said more than $31 million was invested in Oelwein during the last 12 years. From a Community Enrichment Center, a downtown streetscape project, to a NICC Regional Academy for Math and Science... the first of its kind in the state.

"We've basically transformed the community by that investment and so a number of the industries that have come here have told us there's something different here. You guys are on the move. You're trying to get things done," said Mayor Murphy.

Mayor Larry Murphy and Gene Fuelling said resources are scarce. Communities have to look at all options from the school to the federal level to the private sector.

"The only way smaller communities can survive is if there's that collaboration and cooperation and a combination of resources from all sectors," said Fuelling.

After a decade of community members meeting Saturday mornings at a local restaurant to brainstorm ideas, Oelwein is once again starting to live up to its nickname.

"We're proud of it. It took a lot of work. Despite what's going on around us, it shows hard work, having a plan and really having a lot of collaboration within town and parts around the state and regional really pay off," said Mayor Murphy.

Oelwein did lose an employer this year. X-L Trailers announced it was closing the Oelwein plant and moving all employees to Manchester.

The Oelwein Chamber and Area Development is encouraging people who don't want to drive to Manchester to look for employment opportunities with the new industries coming to town.

Reporter: Danielle Wagner

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