Port Authority Changing FTZ Focus

Montrose, IA – The Southeast Iowa Regional Economic and Port Authority will explore another option as it works to secure a key economic development tool.

The Iowa Legislature voted to allow local governments to create a port authority during its 2006 session in Des Moines. Lee County, Keokuk, and Fort Madison joined together to form the first authority in the state that spring.

The Board of Directors has been working, since then, to establish a foreign trade zone designation for Southeast Iowa. Businesses pay less money for certain operations if they are part of an FTZ.

The authority would like to establish a general purpose zone in Lee, Des Moines, Henry, and Louisa Counties.

Vice-Chairman Dave Gudgel says the authority's application has been on hold, for some time, over the location of one potential site. He says there are driving distance requirements and the authority has been told that one location is too far from the next closest FTZ.

Gudgel says the organization will now look to partner with another FTZ instead of creating its own. "That would basically allow us the same benefits," says Gudgel, "the same incentives that we can offer to not only our value-added industries but also to our prospects."

The closest partnership option for the authority would be Cedar Rapids or the Quad Cities. Gudgel and former Southeast Iowa Regional Economic and Port Authority Chairman Lowell Junkins plan to travel to one, or both locations, to open a dialogue about a potential partnership.