Return Trip Possible for Hospital
4:12 pm
Tue March 18, 2014

Lee County Could Give for "Mega-Site"

Lee County is being asked to help fund a "mega"-economic development effort in the northern part of the county.

Lee County Board of Supervisors

The Lee County Economic Development Group has been working for more than a year to secure a mega-site designation from the state of Iowa for about 27-hundred acres of land near Wever.

The property is near the site of Iowa Fertilizer Company's new plant.

Board Member Larry Kruse says businesses and industries know that when a mega-site designation is in place, the site is ready for rapid development.

He says that is crucial to landing new employers or keeping existing ones.

"Because companies, when they select their site, they want to get started," says Kruse, "they don't want to have to go through all of this certification and potential delays before they can build."

Kruse says the first two phases of the effort are complete, but the organization needs some help with phase three, namely financial help.

LCEDG is asking Lee County for $100,000 to help pay for phase 3, which entails geological and archeological work and the extension of available utilities to the site.

The Lee County Board of Supervisors seems to support the request, to the degree that members asked for it to be placed on next week's agenda.

On-Air Version of MegaSite

Kruse says the state of Iowa will promote Lee County's mega-site to potential employers, world-wide, once the designation is secured.

He says the work on phase three must be completed by November, so time is of the essence to secure funding.

Similar requests will be made to the Fort Madison Economic Development Corporation and the Southeast Iowa Regional Riverboat Commission.

HOSPITAL RETURN

Meanwhile, Lee County could be asked to re-consider a decision regarding Keokuk Area Hospital.

Keokuk Area Hospital

The county declined to give the hospital $100,000 during a meeting earlier this month.  The money would have been used as a local match for $150,000 more in federal money.

Duane Fitch, who heads the firm hired to manage Keokuk Area Hospital, says the money is needed to make up for reduced reimbursements or payments for services provided.

He says that is what makes a return trip a possibility.

"To the extent that (the board) would take up that issue again," says Fitch, "we would be pleased to be present and to share with them any additional information that they might need to reconsider this initiative."

Fitch says the hospital will seek the matching federal money as long as it is offered.

Several supervisors had expressed concerns about the hospital seeking $100,000 less than one year after the county approved a similar request.

On-Air Version of Hospital

Chairman Ernie Schiller also expressed concerns about the presentation to the board being offered by an employee of Fitch's firm as opposed to an actual hospital employee.

Duane Fitch does not see that as a significant issue.