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Commercial Development Possible at IAAAP

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The Greater Burlington Partnership hopes that when businesses consider expansion or relocation in southeast Iowa, they consider the Iowa Army Ammunition Plant in Middletown.

David Toyer, Economic Development Director for the Partnership, understands how that might sound a little out of the ordinary to some people.  But he said the property provides an unmatched level of security for the most private of companies.

"If a company were very interested in having a level of privacy because they have a heavy research and development component to the products they make, this would be a pretty good location for them because it's behind a fence that's guarded 24 hours a day, 7 days a week."

Toyer said this effort is part of the U.S. Army's Armament Retooling and Manufacturing Support Program (ARMS).

He said the program allows the Army to utilize seven government-owned, contractor-operated facilities for commercial purposes as long as the commercial firms are not producing ammunition.

"The IAAAP has several industrial sites with substantial development potential and we believe strongly these sites are high value locations for companies looking to add facilities in the Midwest," Toyer said.

The Greater Burlington Partnership, the state of Iowa, and representatives of IAAAP and American Ordinance have been working for several years to include about 800 acres within the roughly 19,000 acre plant in Iowa's Certified Sites Program.

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Inclusion means the property is ready for development with features such as utility access and the completion of pre-engineering tests.

Toyer said of the 800 acres under consideration, only about 2/3 could be developed.

But he said that is still an exciting opportunity for someone in his position of bringing business and industry to Des Moines County.

"It is an asset that gives us a competitive advantage to compete for some projects.  Economic development... is the sales force for the community, in essence, for what the community has as opportunities for people to come in and locate a business here and bring in investment into this community."

Toyer hopes to have the certification process completed this spring.  He said it is currently under review by the state.

Toyer said the government would maintain ownership of the land -- businesses would lease the property, which can be a pro and a con for development.

He said calls have already come in from businesses interested in the IAAAP.

Jason Parrott is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.