CHEROKEE, Iowa — A 100-acre industrial site in Cherokee bordering a vacant meat plant has won state certification.
The Cherokee site joins 20 other sites that have met requirements of the Iowa Certified Site Program, started by the state Economic Development in 2012. The program, which addressed a shortage of project-ready industrial sites in Iowa, declares sites are more than shovel-ready as verified through an independent, third-party certification program. Shovel-ready sites have roads and utility infrastructure already in place.
The certification was completed by the nationally recognized site selection firm of Quest Site Solutions, formerly known as McCallum Sweeney Consulting.
“Having a certified site is about creating a competitive advantage,” said IEDA director Debi Durham, who announced the certification at a news conference Monday morning in downtown Cherokee. “Companies exploring expansions or new operations often do not have the luxury of dedicating substantial amounts of time to the site location process. Having a site where all the development questions have been asked and answered demonstrates that the community is open for business and prepared to welcome new investment.”
The Cherokee site, located on the south end of town, is adjacent to the former Tyson Foods plant. Arkansas-based Tyson in 2014 closed the plant, eliminating about 450 jobs. After Tyson agreed to buy out the remaining years on its lease, local officials have been marketing the plant to prospective tenants.
The certified site, which can be subdivided to meet the needs of future businesses, covers nearly nearly 100 acres, of which about three-quarters are developable. The site has also been certified as a “rail served” site, allowing the supply and value chain transportation needs of businesses at this location to be met by road or rail.
“The certification process is rigorous. We have been working toward this designation for about 18 months,” said Bill Anderson, executive director of Cherokee Area Economic Development Corp. “Having the certified site will be helpful in attracting new businesses and residents to Cherokee.”
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