Regional group responds to fertilizer plant housing needs
WEVER — Responding to the unprecedented demand for rental housing in southeast Iowa created by the Iowa Fertilizer Company project in Wever, the Great River Region Partnership unveiled a wesite March 1 serving as a one-stop housing shop for contractors and their crews.
Designed by Southeastern Community College staff members in collaboration with Great River Region Partnership representatives, the site, www.southeastiowahousing.com, includes addresses and contact information for hotels, RV parks and rental houses in Lee, Louisa, Des Moines and Henry counties.
The Iowa Fertilizer Company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Egypt-based Orascom Construction Industries, broke ground in November on the $1.4 billion fertilizer plant to produce ammonia and urea projects in high demand by Iowa farmers. Up to 3,500 workers will be needed over the three years of construction.
“The Iowa Fertilizer Company is the epitome of a regional project,” said Kiley Miller, vice chairman of the Great River Region Partnership. “Every county in the region will benefit from the arrival of these workers, so it only makes sense for us to work regionally to answer their housing needs.”
The Great River Region Partnership includes voting representatives from Grow Greater Burlington, Lee County Economic Development Group, Louisa Development Group, Mt. Pleasant Area Development Commission, Southeast Iowa Regional Planning Commission, Iowa Wesleyan College and Southeastern Community College. Other participants hail from community development groups, area utilities, and Iowa State University.
Great River Region Partnership Chairman Mike Norris said all partnership members recognize the opportunity the fertilizer plant represents to their counties and organizations. Upon completion, the plant will employ approximately 165 permanent workers with an average wage of $26 an hour. Another 470 indirect jobs are anticipated. Lee County, where Wever is located, historically has had one of the state’s highest unemployment rates.
The Iowa Fertilizer Company has also made a “Buy Iowa” pledge to use as many Iowa-based workers during construction as possible.
“The housing Web site is just one step in our overall effort to make sure that the Iowa Fertilizer Company finds an efficient regional development environment in southeast Iowa,” Norris said.
Landlords who wish to list properties on the site should contact their local economic development office, Norris said.