The March 17 Journal editorial regarding the development of a potential “mega site” in our area does not accurately portray the city of Sioux City's extensive and successful efforts over many years to develop large industrial sites. Had The Sioux City Journal editorial board contacted the city for input on this editorial, a more accurate reflection of the city’s efforts would have been shown.
Sioux City has been a leader in business development and the attraction of good paying jobs and capital investment. In fact, Site Selection magazine has consistently ranked our community at or near the top over the past 10 years for similar-sized communities. Our success has led to historically low unemployment. As we continue to make efforts to expand our community, the city must be mindful of our existing businesses and not create greater workforce issues.
A key element of this success has been the development of the Bridgeport West Industrial Park by the city and its partners to attract significant construction, job creation, investment and new tax base. Bridgeport West was in fact the first “certified site” in the region (under an earlier process), and all the parcels there have now been sold. The single largest development was the sale of 250 acres to Seaboard Triumph Foods, with a $330 million facility and over 2,000 jobs. This development has led to related industrial expansions throughout Bridgeport. Proceeds from the land sales have been set aside by the city and The Siouxland Initiative for acquisition of new industrial sites.
Following the successes of Bridgeport and the need to expand our industrial development land, the city began the extensive process of building Southbridge, an all-new business park. The city began by assembling approximately 400 acres. The development of Southbridge led to the relocation and expansion of Sabre Industries on a 150-acre site.
“Project-ready” sites not only require securing developable land, and planning and testing, but also the construction of new streets and utilities. Site certification cannot happen without this infrastructure. The city has invested well over $50 million in the development of Southbridge, including new streets, utilities and other key infrastructure. The city built a new water treatment plant that will provide an abundant supply of water for new industry. The city has also built a new rail yard capable of handling unit trains, which will meet the needs of major rail-served industry. The city and a number of partners have invested in an extensive study of the need for a new I-29 interchange to boost development.
We are excited that due to these efforts in two weeks we will announce that the 120-acre Southbridge 27 Flags industrial site will achieve site-certification by the state, reflecting this work by the city.
We recognize the rapid industrial growth in our area has created the need and opportunity for new industrial sites to serve existing businesses and attract new development. The city, along with our partners, has quietly pursued planning and the potential acquisition of additional sites. Some offers have been made. It is important that these efforts are respectful of landowners, and consider the location of streets and utilities, the best use of tax dollars, and the actual suitability of sites for industrial development.
In the case of the first certified “mega site” in Iowa in Cedar Rapids, much of the funding of land options was in fact financed by Alliant Energy. In some states, funds are also provided by the state. While Sioux City has been fortunate to receive some DOT funds for streets, and federal rail funds, state law sets limits on land acquisition outside city limits and agricultural land.
Sioux City is committed to the goal of creating a “mega site,” but to achieve success will require the efforts of many partners, both public and private. We recognize the critical importance of continuing to develop world-class industrial project-ready sites, and remain committed to investing strategically in the long-term continued growth to the future of our community and region.
Bob Scott is mayor of Sioux City.
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