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Heinz Road Urban Renewal Amendment one step closer to reality

BY MEGAN SANCHEZ | DECEMBER 20, 2013 5:00 AM

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The Heinz Road Urban Renewal Area Amendment is one step closer to being reality after Thursday morning’s Board of Supervisors hearing.

Iowa City’s economic-development coordinator Wendy Ford presented the project during the supervisors’ informal meeting.

The amendment would allow the city to complete a third project in the plan, which would spur theĀ  creation of 37 new jobs with salaries above the county median. Although the supervisors cannot vote during informal meetings, all of them expressed support for the idea.

The Heinz Road Urban Renewal Area was created in 2002 to assist Iowa City’s manufacturing community by creating economic-development initiatives.

Since then, three expansion projects have occurred, two of them being with Alpla Inc., a manufacturer of plastic bottles.

The city would like to assist Alpla with a third expansion project, but state law requires an amendment to the renewal program in order to do so.

Each of these projects receives state funds as well as tax increment financing.

Supervisor Chairwoman Janelle Rettig said she supports the use of TIF in this instance.

“You just don’t give away the bank,” she said. “I think TIF is a very valuable tool. This seems like a place it should be used. I have zero concerns, and I am supportive.”

The new project, an addition to the Alpla building, 2258 Heinz Road, will include a $12.2 million capital investment. The investment would create a 10,000-square-foot addition for new technology, two new machines, and assembly equipment.

In March 2012, Alpla applied for state funds and presented this to City Council. The company was hoping for matched local funds, and these were granted.

The next step is for the city’s economic development to notify all taxing entities in Johnson County, which is what occurred with the supervisors.

After this, comes notification of the public. There will be a public hearing on Jan. 21 about this matter.

Ford said she was not at all surprised by the support.

“I kind of figured, with an industrial project that is focused on the jobs it creates and the tax base it helps increase, that it would be a fairly appealing project to them, and there wouldn’t be any dissent among them about whether they should go forward with this,” she said.

Supervisor Terrence Neuzil said that while the supervisors are sometimes worried about the incentive needed to bring in jobs, in this case, all balances are in check.

“In this day and age, city governments are incredibly aggressive in bringing in economic development,” he said. “Sometimes, [the supervisors] have a different definition of how much is too much to give away, but under this circumstance this seems to be the right kind of direction and the right area of the community.”


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