Iowa Governor Terry Branstad is confident his state will come out on top when it comes to a proposed $1.5-billion fertilizer plant.
Orascom Construction Industries is said to be considering multiple sites in Iowa for the plant, along with locations in central Illinois and Texas.
Branstad says he has personally talked to representatives of the Egypt-based company about Iowa’s history of honest, reliable government, especially when compared to Illinois.
He says he also told them of his goal to cut commercial and industrial property taxes along with the corporate income rate.
Branstad believes those factors will help bring the plant to his state, but he says he will not pick a side when it comes to potential locations in Lee County, Des Moines County and the Quad City area.
“Realistically looking at it, the company needs to decide,” says Branstad, “and I don’t take different sides on sites in Iowa. (But) as I understand it, the site in Lee County is the preferred site.”
Branstad said, during a stop in Fort Madison, that this would be the single largest economic development project in state history.
Estimates are the plant would create about 165 permanent jobs and several thousand temporary construction jobs.
Branstad says these are the types of jobs he wants in Iowa, even it if requires large tax incentives for the company. He understands there has been some opposition to the proposal, but he says that generally pops up anytime a major employer considers an area.
Meanwhile, Governor Branstad says state government is doing what it can to help farmers and residents deal with the ongoing drought.
He says the conditions have not reached the degree of 1988 when he declared a statewide emergency to allow access to state resources.
He says the drought is hurting everyone in Iowa, though, especially livestock producers.
“The price of soybeans and corn has gone up dramatically the last few weeks,” says Branstad, “and that is really going to put the price squeeze on people who are feeding hogs and cattle.”
Branstad says relief would be on the way for livestock producers if Congress gets around to passing a new farm bill.
The Governor says state-based assistance programs through the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Natural Resources are in operation.
He says the most critical resources out there are federal crop insurance and disaster designations.
Branstad says less than 40% of Iowa’s corn crop would be considered Good-Excellent at this point.