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FOREST CITY | Recreational vehicle manufacturer Winnebago Industries Inc. will open a manufacturing operation in Waverly that will employ 70 workers.

The Forest City-based company said Friday it plans to purchase a 33,400-square-foot building in Waverly for expansion of the company’s subassembly operations.

“Winnebago has a great reputation as a sound employer and a good corporate citizen,” said Connie Tolan, economic development specialist with Waverly Economic Development. “This will be a subassembly plant that will be doing things that I think will diversify what’s being manufactured here in town and will be a complement to our existing businesses.”

Details about incentives were still “being worked out,” Tolan said.

Friday's announcement culminated negotiations that began a few months ago and involved the company, Waverly officials and the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber, Tolan said.

S&J Enterprises of Denver LC owns the property, which has been largely vacant since CUNA Mutual moved out about three years ago to consolidate its operations in Waverly, Tolan said.

The company has not yet named a manager for the Waverly plant.

“Increased consumer demand and elevated retail activity have resulted in the need for us to expand our motor home manufacturing capacity,” Winnebago Chairman, CEO and President Randy Potts, a Waterloo native, said in a news release.

The new Waverly facility will be used for wire loom assembly activities for the company’s motor homes. Wire loom assemblies are a motor home’s 12-volt wiring system. Operations will be relocated from Forest City in the coming months.

The company will release hiring information in the near future, spokeswoman Sheila Davis said.

The new plant will be located in Waverly’s Southwest Business Park. The building the company will occupy was built in 1995.

“We looked at facilities in a number of communities within approximately 200 miles of our Forest City campus,” Davis said. “The Waverly facility was very attractive to us because it will require very few structural changes and is basically move-in ready.”

A purchase agreement was reached in February. Assuming no issues are found, the goal is to close the deal in the next 45-60 days, Winnebago said. The company expects to spend $1.5 million to $2 million on startup costs over the next few quarters.

Winnebago stock closed at $21.03 Friday on the New York Stock Exchange, up 3.14 percent. The stock had a year-on-year range of $28.43 April 1, 2014, and $18.82 Jan. 28.

The addition of the Waverly plant is the latest step in a comeback from the economic downturn of 2008 that forced the company to close a plant in Charles City and shrink its workforce from a peak of 4,220 in August 2004 to 1,694 five years later. The company now employs about 2,400 workers in Forest City, 200 in Charles City and 60 in Lake Mills.

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