Government

Cedar Rapids City Council backs big Cargill investment at soybean plant

Council expresses support for helping with city tax break

Grain trucks hauling soybeans are lined up Sept. 19, 2018, to check into the Cargill Cedar Rapids east processing plant. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Grain trucks hauling soybeans are lined up Sept. 19, 2018, to check into the Cargill Cedar Rapids east processing plant. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — A $37.62 million expansion and facility modernization at Cargill’s east soybean facility received a preliminary blessing Tuesday from the Cedar Rapids City Council.

The investment primarily would upgrade the facility’s equipment and expand one of the buildings at 410 C Ave. NE in an industrial section north of downtown near Cedar Lake.

“Any time you see an existing business invest and reinvest in the tens of millions dollars, it points out why they want to be in Cedar Rapids and their long-term commitment not only to keep the high quality jobs but also the offshoots of having those high quality jobs here,” City Council member Scott Overland said. “I feel very good about a company investing $37 million in their existing facility for the long term.”

The council passed a resolution supporting Cargill’s application to the Iowa Economic Development Authority for $429,800 in tax credits under the state’s high-quality jobs program. The council also agreed in principle to provide a local match, which is required by the state program, estimated to be worth $367,700 in tax breaks over 10 years.

The private investment is significant for Cedar Rapids and comes after the announcement of another major project. Heart of America plans a renovation and hotel project in Cedar Rapids of more than $50 million, which city officials have said is the largest private investment ever in the city’s downtown.

Cargill also has proposed a $6.5 million rail yard on public land in the Rompot neighborhood, but the soybean investment and the rail yard plans are unrelated, city and company officials said. The council initially supported the rail yard project, but has slowed the process under pressure from neighbors.

Cargill has about 400 employees in Cedar Rapids at east and west soybean plants, a corn milling plant in southeast Cedar Rapids and Diamond V, an animal nutrition company Cargill acquired in 2017.

Cargill’s plans for the east soybean facility include $6.12 million in building construction and site preparation and $31.5 million in machinery and equipment, design and engineering.

The state economic development board is slated to consider the application Jan. 17. If approved, the city would need to formalize the local match incentive likely in February and March by creating an urban renewal area, which allows the city to use tax increment financing to sequester taxes from that area to give to Cargill.

Council member Ashley Vanorny noted the project will lead to no new jobs but would help retain 48 existing jobs.

Iowa Economic Development Authority defines high-quality jobs considered under the program as those paying at least $21.61 per hour in Linn County, according to the authority.

In other council action Tuesday, a wooded area at the edge of Bever Park is slated to return a bit closer to its natural state.

The council granted Alliant Energy an easement to bury an overhead electric line that cuts through the park.

As a result, Alliant would remove most of the poles and wires.

Alliant paid $31,528 for the easement. The new configuration would provide easier access for Alliant crews, and no trees are expected to be impacted as a result of the work, said Rita Rasmussen, the city’s real estate services manager.

“I appreciate them being able to do this,” Overland said. “It will really help the natural look in Bever Park by getting rid of the poles and the lines.”

l Comments: (319) 398-8310; brian.morelli@thegazette.com

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