Cedar Rapids manufacturer Highway Equipment Co. to add 14 jobs

Highway Equipment Co. plans to add a testing facility

Ron Grant (right) and Randy Heeren stack sheet metal parts that were cut with a laser cutter at Highway Equipment Co., in southwest Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Wednesday, August 9, 2017. The company will expand with a 32,000 square foot testing facility and 14 new jobs. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Ron Grant (right) and Randy Heeren stack sheet metal parts that were cut with a laser cutter at Highway Equipment Co., in southwest Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Wednesday, August 9, 2017. The company will expand with a 32,000 square foot testing facility and 14 new jobs. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

A maker of agricultural spreaders will expand in southwest Cedar Rapids and add 14 jobs.

Highway Equipment Co. plans to construct a 32,000-square-foot testing site near its existing manufacturing space along 76th Avenue SW.

Founded in 1939, Highway Equipment manufactures applicators for vehicles used in farming or road maintenance, such as those that spread fertilizer, salt or other de-icing materials. The expansion will allow the company to test new equipment year-round instead of relying on good weather, Director of Marketing Cory Venable said.

The expansion, which includes the new employees, also will help Highway Equipment develop more efficient spreaders that better control how much of a dry nutrient or fertilizer is sprayed onto a field, he said.

“Our customers are always needing more from us and, with regulations and everything else on how nutrients are applied, we have to be better,” Venable said. “We have to continue to be better. We take sustainability very seriously here and being able to apply nutrients where they need to be, when they need to be.”

The company currently employs about 150 people and has 156,700 square feet of manufacturing space, Venable said.

Highway Equipment has asked the state to provide financial incentives for the $3.3 million expansion project. The Cedar Rapids City Council approved the company’s state application Tuesday and the Iowa Economic Development Authority is expected to review the request Aug. 18.

Cedar Rapids has to provide a local match, which will be a 10-year, 50 percent reimbursement of the increased taxes generated by Highway Equipment’s expansion. City staff estimated the company will receive $92,500 in returned taxes.

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“Any time we can do anything to support our locally owned companies, I’m more than pleased to do that. ... It’s great that Highway Equipment Co. chooses to continue to expand in the Cedar Rapids area,” city council member Scott Overland said at Tuesday’s council meeting.

l Comments: (319) 398-8366; matthew.patane@thegazette.com

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