Iowa Governor Terry Branstad held nothing back as he took on critics of a proposed $1.4-billion fertilizer plant in northern Lee County.
He and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds took part in a roughly 30-minute town hall meeting at Fort Madison Community Hospital Tuesday afternoon.
The focus of the event, which was organized by the Lee County Economic Development Group, was Iowa Fertilizer Company.
The governor spoke for about 20 minutes during the meeting.
He used part of his time to tout the benefits of IFC’s proposed plant near Wever, specifically citing the permanent and temporary jobs created, the boost to the local tax base and the lower fertilizer costs for farmers.
Governor Branstad says his message is simple.
“I am here to make it clear that the CEO of the state is on your side and we will fight for these jobs,” says Branstad. “I want to make it clear that when we make a promise to Lee County, or any county in Iowa for that matter, it is a promise we are going to keep, no matter what they might say in Des Moines or any committee meeting.”
The rest of his time was spent addressing critics of the incentives offered to IFC.
The Governor singled out two State Senators: Joe Bolkcom (D-Iowa City) for his consistent, vocal opposition and Rich Taylor (D-Mt. Pleasant) for recent comments against the incentive package.
“For Senator Taylor to join the critics opposing the construction of this plant, rather than supporting new jobs in Lee County, is politics of the worst kind,” says Branstad. “He needs to quit following Sen. Bolkcom and instead, needs to start listening to his constituents in this county who need these jobs desparately.”
The Governor got even more emotional in defending the plant and the incentive package when meeting with a few reporters after the town hall meeting.
He said it was “baloney” to question the use of disaster relief bonds for the project and he took offense to a question about offering incentives to IFC, whose parent company, Orascom Construction Industries, is based in Egypt.
“I resent you making reference to the fact that this is an Egyptian company,” says Branstad. “I don’t think that really matters. These are good quality jobs and this is a good company.”
The construction of the plant is expected to require more than 2,500 workers over the next three years. About 165 people would be employed there once it is up and running.