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Tyson plans a $28 million update at its Waterloo plant.

COURIER FILE PHOTO

Economic development can be a balancing act when weighing benefits to the community against the use of tax abatements and other enticements.

But landing an expansion project for Tyson Fresh Meats, in Waterloo, didn’t create a lot of over-thinking for both city leaders and state economic officials.

Tyson Fresh Meats Inc. plans to create 245 new jobs with a $28 million expansion of its Waterloo pork processing plant. That’s a significant influx of jobs – and jobs mean economic growth. That’s welcome news for Waterloo and the Cedar Valley.

“The expansion of our Waterloo pork complex is great news for our plant, our community and our customers,” said Shane Miller, senior vice president of the pork division for Tyson Fresh Meats. “We are committed to the Waterloo community and look forward to adding more jobs while also supporting the independent pork producers in this region.”

Tyson currently employs nearly 2,900 people in Waterloo. The expansion will add 225 production jobs, all paying above the $17.29 per hour wage that is required through the High Quality Jobs incentive program. The company’s application also listed 10 new maintenance positions, eight management jobs paying $35.88 per hour and two management support jobs being added to the payroll.

“When businesses grow, we all win,” said Waterloo Mayor Quentin Hart. “These new jobs will have a positive impact on every sector of our economy. With them comes great demand for housing, retail and dining options, health care and professional services. This expansion will increase tax revenue that supports city services and our schools.”

Waterloo City Council members voted unanimously last week to approve five years of graduated tax abatements for Tyson. The abatements for the additional value created by new construction starts at 75 percent in year one and drops to 15 percent by year five. The project is not in a tax increment financing district, so the rest of the taxes will support local government operations.

That contribution comes in tandem with $2 million in investment tax credits and $396,000 in sales and use tax refunds approved by the Iowa Economic Development Authority as incentives to land the project.

Steve Dust, executive director of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance and Chamber, noted the importance of those investments, since Tyson also had been considering locations in Nebraska and Indiana for their expansion project.

“For us, Tyson Fresh Meats’ significant expansion makes it clear that the Cedar Valley is a place that welcomes capital investment of many kinds, and we’re a great place to operate a major plant,” he said.

Dust praised the use of incentives by the city and the state.

“We’re pleased another 245 people will have a new job with good wages and benefits,” he said. “It’s a win for the Cedar Valley.”

The expansion includes construction of a new 56,400-square-foot warehouse and renovation of another 18,250 square feet of existing space to add production lines.

It is believed to be the largest industrial expansion or renovation of any kind in the Cedar Valley since an expansion of the John Deere Product Engineering Center in Cedar Falls in 2014.

When deciding on where to locate its expansion, Tyson had options. We’re pleased city leaders and state agencies were able to come up with a package ensuring it would happen in Waterloo.

Job growth means economic growth, and virtually every community on the map is looking for that.

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