By Amy Kuhlers IASourcelink, with Bryce Davis, Director of Wright County Economic Development
Photo credit: Chad Thompson, The Fort Dodge Messenger
In July 2016, the announcement that Prestage Farms planned on building a $240 million pork processing plant in Wright County quickly changed the norm for the citizens and businesses of that region. In this month’s Resource Partner highlight, we asked Wright County Economic Development director, Bryce Davis, to share how they are planning for growth and to discuss opportunities on the horizon.
It’s very exciting that Prestage Farms will be locating its state-of-the-art pork facility in Wright County and bringing with it a minimum of 900 new jobs. Many of those positions may be filled by new residents moving into the area. Can you tell readers potential housing needs and how those needs might be met?
The communities in Wright County currently provide, and are diligently working to increase, housing opportunities for residents new to the area. The City of Eagle Grove has a tremendous grant opportunity, providing up to $40,000 for any new residential home built. The City of Goldfield is looking at redeveloping a school building into multi-family units. The City of Clarion has drastically reduced the lot price in a new subdivision, White Fox Landing, and is providing a utility rebate for any new residential construction. Additionally, the increasing housing demand is driving developers across Iowa to look at Wright County as a place to develop new housing.
In addition to housing, other infrastructure and educational needs may arise. Can you share your thoughts on planning for this growth?
The Eagle Grove Community School District is investigating ways to increase space at the elementary and middle school to accommodate new students, and the City of Eagle Grove is working with the local daycare, Eagle’s Wings, to accommodate extra childcare services. Also, the Clarion-Goldfield-Dows School District is looking at methods to embrace its additional growth. Both school districts are very excited to educate new students that come to the area.
The influx of new jobs in the region can bring opportunities for other businesses to be developed as well. Do you envision other economic growth occurring throughout the region, and what might that look like?
Absolutely. Aside from many retail and service-oriented positions that will develop, Wright County is investigating ways for existing local businesses, as well as businesses that must relocate to the area, to experience the benefits of the anticipated growth stimulated by the Prestage plant.
How are community members within the region working together to navigate changes that may be coming?
The Wright County communities are working exceptionally well together, and addressing changes based on their respective areas of expertise. For example, the City of Eagle Grove and the Community Development Corporation are teaming up to develop strategies to accommodate growth. Iowa Central Community College Career Academy in Eagle Grove is preparing to provide an increased number of excellent educational services. Iowa Specialty Hospital-- recognized in 2017 with three Women’s Choice Awards (Patient Experience, Patient Safety, and Bariatric Surgery), a National Rural Health Association Top 20 Best Practice Patient Satisfaction Award, and a Healthgrades Outstanding Patient Experience Award—is working to ensure top-notch healthcare and health education for our growing and changing population.
Anything else you’d like to share?
This is an exciting time for Wright County. We are in the early stages of working with community members to develop a county-wide Master Trails Plan, and anticipate this will lead to positive changes for our community members’ quality of life as well as more opportunities for the entire region to experience all that Wright County has to offer.
Bryce Davis, Director, Wright County Economic Development