A number of local and state leaders came to show their support for a very big project today. The expansion of CF Industries' Port Neal facility is a historic moment that will impact the county and the state for years to come.
"This is a very significant investment by CF Industries and its something that were very excited about," said Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad.
The nearly $2 billion plan includes expanding the CF fertilizer manufacturing facility at Port Neal and developing a new rail spur and access road.
Just a few weeks ago, it was called "Project X", a big secret the Woodbury County Board of Supervisors had to keep.
"We did have to sign a disclosure, not to disclose it, so it was easy because we would have faced criminal penalties to if we didn't keep it quite, but we were pretty excited," says Jackie Smith, Chair of the Woodbury County Board of Supervisors.
Staring in 2017, the tax revenue generated by the expansion is expected to funnel $127 million into the local economy over a 20 year period of time, and $50 million of that money will go to Woodbury County.
CF Industries already employs more than 100 people at Port Neal, but with the expansion, it'll add 100 new jobs with a starting wage of $50,000 a year.
"We estimate that about 700 indirect jobs will be required to support those hundred in-plant jobs, and during the construction period the peak employment is estimated to be around 1,600 construction jobs," said CF Industries CEO Steve Wilson.
The expansion will begin as soon as possible, and Wilson anticipates it to be up and running by 2016.
The investment is already impacting Sioux City.
"We think it's just a catalyst for what's going to happen, and our area was ready. My thought is you do a lot of things to try and bring jobs and industry here, and this one paid off, so I think we just keep the efforts, and it's a great day to live in Woodbury County," Smith said.
"This is a great time in American agriculture, it's been a great time to be a north American fertilizer producer, about half the nitrogen consumed in the U.S. is imported, and so we are pleased now in the wake of the Shell Gas Phenomenon in the U.S. lower cost of natural gas in great quantities, to be very, very competitive in this marketplace," said Wilson.
Wilson says CF will file for its water and air permits as soon as possible. Once that process is completed, the company will be able to break ground, and if all goes as planned, production should begin sometime in 2016.