SIOUX CITY | A master plan for Woodbury County that would guide possible development south of Sioux City won't be completed until near the end of the year.

But County Board Chairman George Boykin said that doesn't mean the county's quest to become Iowa's first certified industrial "mega site" won't happen in 2014.

The County Board on Tuesday hired McClure Engineering, of Johnston, Iowa, to develop the master plan. McClure will be paid $62,400 for the task.

A master plan agreement is needed to become a certified industrial mega site. The pace to certify a mega site in the county has slowed in recent months, frustrating some local and state leaders.

Iowa Economic Development Authority Director Debi Durham, who pushed for the state certification program, has repeatedly implored Woodbury County and Sioux City leaders to work together to develop the mega site, and Sioux  City Mayor Bob Scott told the Journal last month that with an apparent lack of consensus among the communities involved, county officials "need to show some leadership and get it going."

July marks the next opening for sites to apply to the Economic Development Authority Board for 2014 certification status. McClure President Terry Lutz said the master plan will take from six to eight months to complete.

Creating the master plan would move the process along, Boykin said, adding that it is too early to rule out a mega site designation for the county this year.

Certification as a mega site provides a de facto seal of approval for large industries wanting to expand in a timely fashion. The site must include at least 1,000 acres and be close to major highways and rail lines.

The mega site is envisioned somewhere along the Interstate 29 corridor, south of Sioux City and Sergeant Bluff and near the Port Neal industrial area.

Lutz said his firm will talk to officials from Sioux City, Sergeant Bluff and Salix to gather feedback while also talking to businesses and landowners in the area. The work will involve a plan to complement expansions under way at Sioux City's Southbridge Business Park and the private firm CF Industries, he said.

The plan will also summarize what infrastructure needs to be added, costs for that infrastructure and a priority list of work to be done over 10 years.

"It will provide us a lot of answers on unanswered questions," Boykin said.

Lutz said the plan would enable the county "to create more economic development and more jobs."

The county has previously hired McClure for various consulting jobs, but the  board twice in December tabled hiring the firm to draw up the mega-site plan. Lutz in December told board members he wanted more time to talk with business and other stakeholders before the county moved ahead.

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County and education reporter

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