Development News and Economic Highlights 

Storm Lake Lighthouse


Lighthouse Red



CONGRATULATIONS TO MERRILL MANUFACTURING - LARGE BUSINESS OF THE YEAR 




The Iowa Lakes Corridor Development Corporation (Corridor) once again recognized great achievements by local businesses at the organization’s 13th Annual Business Recognition Luncheon on January 31, 2024 at the Clay County Regional Events Center in Spencer.

Winners of this year’s Business Recognition awards are:

Young Professional of the Year – Sara Taylor, Spencer Regional Hospital Foundation, Spencer
Entrepreneur of the Year – Nate Kraft, Krafty’s Meat Market, Milford
Small Business Excellence – Carstensen’s Meat & Grocery, Lake Park
Large Business Excellence – Merrill Manufacturing, Storm Lake

Nominations for the annual Business Recognition awards in the categories of Young Professional, Entrepreneur, Small Business and Large Business are made by area business leaders and community members. These nominations are then reviewed by a volunteer committee drawn from across the region and are evaluated based on commitment, impact and growth in Corridor communities.

Merrill Team


Lighthouse Yellow


BUENA VISTA UNIVERSITY, UNITED BANK OF IOWA CONNECT THROUGH STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP. 



Buena Vista University (BVU) and United Bank of Iowa have formed a Strategic Partnership, providing new opportunities to strengthen the communities and the people both entities serve.

This partnership allows for employees of United Bank of Iowa, as well as eligible family members of full-time employees, to receive grant funding to lower the overall cost of education while enrolled in classes at BVU’s Storm Lake campus. Partner grant funding also lowers the cost per credit hour for students enrolled in BVU’s convenient online undergraduate programs or the organizational leadership graduate program.

“We are excited about partnering with BVU to offer our employees discounted tuition and get more exposure to UBI to attract new employees,” says United Bank of Iowa Recruiting & Development Coordinator Katie Bresnahan.

United Bank of Iowa, headquartered in Ida Grove, is a full-service community bank. As a leader in the agricultural banking industry, United Bank of Iowa has been recognized as Iowa’s #1 Ag Bank since 2004. United Bank of Iowa, with assets of over $2.4 billion, employs approximately 330 professionals in 34 additional locations in West Central Iowa: Alta, Anthon, Arthur, Aurelia, Boone, Carroll, Charter Oak, Churdan, Cleghorn, Cushing, Denison, Dunlap, Fort Dodge, Galva, Glidden, Harlan, Holstein, Kingsley, Kiron, Lake City, Lohrville, Lytton, Marcus, Moorhead, Moville, Odebolt, Onawa, Pierson, Pocahontas, Rockwell City, Rolfe, Sac City, Schleswig, and Storm Lake.

“BVU was my home away from home,” says United Bank of Iowa Ag Loan Associate Jamison Frerk, who received his bachelor’s degree in agricultural business in 2023. “It introduced me to some of my best friends and some great internships. The staff really cared about my success, and that was ultimately why BVU was a great choice for me. Like always, defend the lake!”

BVU has long enjoyed strong educational ties in and around Denison and Fort Dodge, home to Western Iowa Tech Community College and Iowa Central Community College, respectively, campuses that have collaborated with BVU for decades. Students enrolled in a program through WITCC or ICCC can seamlessly transfer their credits toward their bachelor’s degree at BVU. Students receive personalized support including admissions and enrollment counseling and academic advising right in Denison and Fort Dodge through BVU’s offices on the WITCC and ICCC campuses.

“Buena Vista University is eager to become Strategic Partners with United Bank of Iowa, extending additional educational benefits to its employees and their eligible family members,” says BVU Director of Strategic Partnerships Laura Todd. “BVU is dedicated to strengthening Iowa’s workforce through increased access to affordable education, and we look forward to the many opportunities this collaboration will create for individuals at United Bank of Iowa.”


Lighthouse Blue 

U.S DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE INVESTS $700,000 TO BOLSTER MANUFACTURING AND HEALTHCARE WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT.


 

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) has awarded a $700,000 grant to Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge, Iowa, to purchase equipment for workforce training programs at the college’s Storm Lake Regional Center in Buena Vista County.

This project will support technical training programs in advanced manufacturing and welding, electrical technologies, industrial mechanics and machining, and health sciences. The EDA investment will be matched with $700,000 in local funds and is expected to create 144 jobs, according to grantee estimates. 

“The Economic Development Administration is proud to support Iowa Central Community College’s efforts to build a robust workforce for critical and emerging industries of tomorrow,” said Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo. “This strategic, place-based EDA investment will ensure that the manufacturing and healthcare sectors remain a driving force for job creation and economic resiliency throughout the region for decades to come.”

“My consistent takeaway from visiting manufacturing facilities during my meetings in each of Iowa’s 99 counties is that Iowa manufacturers are innovating and supplying the world with some of the highest quality goods available despite persistent challenges with workforce shortages,” said Senator Chuck Grassley. “The resources announced today will support Iowa’s rich manufacturing sector by providing the next generation of workers with training on cutting edge equipment. This investment will expand academic offerings at Iowa Central Community College that will help strengthen the local job market and encourage advancements in manufacturing and workforce training.”




Buena Vista University is moving forward with the first in a series of campus upgrades set to transform the residential student experience.

At its February meeting, the BVU Board of Trustees approved construction of a new 185-bed, apartment-style complex. The new apartments will set a precedence for future BVU housing, all while providing amenities and spaces to better support student needs. 

“The Board of Trustees is excited to support construction of the new apartment building, a residential living space that will give our students great opportunities to fine tune their learning and living skills in an environment specifically designed to aid in their transition into life after college,” stated Michael K. Pierce, Chairperson of the BVU Board of Trustees. 

With the last major residential renovation taking place just over a decade ago in Pierce and White residence halls, the new site will give BVU premier housing options for undergraduate students throughout Iowa.

“We have focused greatly on how this new space will best serve our students and their evolving needs,” said President Brian Lenzmeier. “With this new residence hall, BVU will not only offer some of the best housing among Iowa private colleges, we will be competitive nationally.”

The new four-story apartment building will offer three different fully furnished room styles, including studio options, with all units having individual temperature-controls, kitchenettes, private bedrooms, and private bathrooms. 

“The new apartment project is modeled recognizing the varying needs of today’s student,” said Dr. Heather Black, Vice President for Student Success. “Spaces are set up to meet common needs identified through our housing accommodation process, which includes providing a private room and bathroom for each student.” 

Amenity spaces will include open and private social lounges, study spaces, meeting rooms, laundry facilities, an outdoor courtyard, and a workout center. All this with an emphasis on the student experience.

Buena Vista University New Apartment Complex

"The new apartment-style residence halls are an exciting response to recent student requests for more functional and modern living spaces,” noted Student Senate President Brayden Bergum, a senior. “Students were grateful to be included in the decision-making process and we are enthusiastic about the opportunities this project will bring to future BVU classes.”

Construction work is set to begin on campus this summer starting with the demolition of McCorkle Hall and Smith Hall, giving way for the new apartments and new green space, respectively. The new apartment complex is slated to open Fall 2025 and is part of a ten-year strategic vision which includes this additional housing complex, facility upgrades in BVU Athletics, and continuous campus improvements.

“Apartment-style housing is an excellent way to follow through on my presidential priorities involving quality outcomes and experiences for our students and creating an organizational culture that focuses on continued improvement and innovation,” said Lenzmeier. “There is so much to look forward to as we build. This is such an exciting time to be a Beaver.” 

For more information on BVU’s new apartments, including additional renderings, go to bvu.edu/new-hall

Lighthouse Yellow


STORM LAKE AWARDED IEDA'S RURAL CHILD CARE MARKET STUDY GRANT



The City of Storm Lake announces grant for child care study. The outlook for a child care project in Storm Lake has taken a step forward.

The City of Storm Lake applied for, and has been awarded, a $10,000 Rural Child Care Market Study grant. The grant program supports use of data and analysis by communities to determine specific needs and solutions for local child care.

The information will be critical for organizations or providers interested in serving the community. Earlier, the Storm Lake City Council agreed unanimously to fund an additional $5,000 toward the study. Storm Lake will contract with First Children’s Finance, the industry leader in child care market research and sustainability. Planning for the study will begin immediately.

IEDA Rural Childcare Market Study Grant

“The grant is a valuable first step in our community goal of addressing our child care needs,” Mayor Mike Porsch said. “It provides us not only a needs assessment but also a tool for community groups or child care organizations to use in obtaining valuable grants to use for establishing child care facilities in our community.”

“We are deeply appreciative of the opportunity that Iowa Economic Development Authority and Director Durham has presented to the city to address critical child care needs in the community and to positively impact economic development,” added City Manager Keri Navratil.

Storm Lake’s grant application was selected in the competitive process after scoring by a panel of Empower Rural Iowa task force members and IEDA staff. The grant was announced Friday. The Center for Rural Revitalization will provide assistance in completing the study and determining steps moving forward based on the outcome.

“Child care is a challenge across rural communities in Iowa and across the nation. However, the solutions are often more complicated than the construction of a new facility,” according to IDEA officials. “Many factors need to be carefully analyzed to first determine the market feasibility for development of a child care center, expansion of an existing one or support for in-home providers. Through greater understanding of their geographic market, demographics, competition and other factors, communities can be armed with the information needed to take proactive steps towards addressing child care challenges.”


Lighthouse Red Opens in new window


STORM LAKE AWARDED T-MOBILE'S HOMETOWN GRANT


T Mobile Check Presentation

Storm Lake is proud that our community is one of 25 towns across the country selected to receive a T-Mobile Hometown Grant! 

This investment of nearly $50,000 will make a huge difference in Storm Lake so that we can create Harmony Garden, a welcoming gathering place for all residents in the downtown area, featuring outdoor musical instruments representing multiple cultures, along with accessible seating, game tables, covered area and outdoor electronics charging.

“The Harmony Garden project is a great opportunity to develop a public gathering spot in Storm Lake’s downtown area. It will be a lot of fun for people of all ages and backgrounds,” said Storm Lake Mayor Mike Porsch. “The musical instruments will make it a very sensory, interactive experience. This is a great way to kick off our Downtown Master Plan and Storm Lake’s 2023 Sesquicentennial year celebration.”

Harmony Garden Concept Design

In one of the country’s most ethnically diverse small cities, music is a common language. Adding instruments to a complex that houses both the public library and a public art gallery, makes for joyful synergy. Literature, visual art, and music dovetail to create a thriving cultural center to inspire creativity for many years to come. 

The five-year, $25 million T-Mobile national commitment is aimed at helping communities create innovative gathering spaces. 

T-Mobile has now awarded 150 grants totaling $6.8 million. "Hometown Grants are truly making a difference in small towns," said Jon Freier, President, Consumer Group at T-Mobile. "It’s been humbling to see T-Mobile creating a positive lasting impact in communities both through our grant funding and giving back to small businesses all over the country." 


Lighthouse Blue Opens in new window


IOWA CENTRAL COMMUNITY COLLEGE | ANNOUNCES PLANS FOR NEW CAMPUS IN STORM LAKE
 



Students at Iowa Central Community College’s Storm Lake Campus will soon be able to attend all of their classes in one centralized location.

Plans for a new single site at 323 W. 20th St. near the Iowa Central Training Center are underway with construction slated to begin in the spring of 2023. Presently, Storm Lake students take classes in three separate locations: The AEA Building on Flindt Drive, Storm Lake High School and on the campus of Buena Vista University. The AEA Building currently houses classes for ESL and ELL, while nursing students attend class in the basement of BVU’s Swope Hall and general for-credit classes are held at Storm Lake High School.

Chris Cleveland, Storm Lake Center director said the new facility will allow a more fluid transition for students in multiple classes. “This will provide our students with a more fluid learning experience,” said Cleveland. “It has been a long-term goal of our master plan to have everything offered in one site.” “Our goal is to get everyone into one central location and this building will allow us to do that,” said Dr. Stacy Mentzer, vice president of instruction at Iowa Central.

The two-story building will include 16 classrooms with eight on each floor, an Academic Resource Center, and a testing center for external companies in the community to utilize. The new center will also offer additional programs such as welding, electrical and manufacturing and certified nurse aid courses.

Iowa Central Community College Storm Lake Learning Center

“We are working to offer more programs and courses that will help fill a need in the Storm Lake area,” Mentzer said.

“Expanding our campus in Storm Lake allows us to better serve a part of the Iowa Central region that is rapidly growing,” said Iowa Central President Dr. Jesse Ulrich. “This expansion not only makes sense for our region, for our businesses and industry, and for our students, but also fits directly into our strategic plan and mission for Iowa Central.”

Groundbreaking Ceremony


The initial plan is to complete the first floor of the building and continue to add classroom space on the second floor as enrollment increases. Presently, 198 students are enrolled in a combined 1,425 credit hours through the Storm Lake Campus.

“Being in one location should help with our student enrollment,” Cleveland said.

“Our goal is to be able to double enrollment with a new building,” Mentzer said.

The campus will also include a career academy for area high school students to enroll in a specific set of courses associated with a designated career area “Our hope is that having one campus will create more of a college environment and make our students feel more at home at Iowa Central.”



Lighthouse Yellow Opens in new window


IOWA LAKES CORRIDOR ANNOUNCES 2022 BUSINESS RECOGNITION AWARD WINNERS



“This year’s winners are another group of great examples in economic development,” said Corridor President and CEO Shannon Landauer. “From large employers that make investments in their companies, teams and communities to individuals that are investing their time in strengthening their communities, the Corridor continues to provide examples of economic development excellence. This region continues to thrive with these contributors providing leadership in rural economic development!”

Nominations for the annual Business Recognition awards in the categories of Young Professional, Entrepreneur, Small Business and Large Business are made by area business leaders and community members. These nominations are then reviewed by a volunteer committee drawn from across the region and are evaluated based on commitment, impact and growth in Corridor communities.

Winners of this year’s Business Recognition awards are:

Young Professional of the Year – Teresa Beck, Beck Engineering, Spirit Lake

Entrepreneur of the Year – Inder Singh, Brew Oil, LLC, Storm Lake

Small Business Excellence – Consumers Lumber Company, Spirit Lake

Large Business Excellence – King’s Pointe Waterpark Resort, Storm Lake

Kings Pointe Resort staff with Mayor Porsch

Project of the Year – Tyson Foods Turkey Operations, Storm Lake

Workforce Excellence – Midwestern Mechanical, Spencer

Economic Development Partner – Rand Fisher, Des Moines

Economic Development Impact – Lyle Hevern, Estherville

Photos courtesy of Euvonne Hickey


Lighthouse Red Opens in new window


STORM LAKE | IEDA WORKFORCE HOUSING TAX CREDITS AWARDED



IEDA Workforce Housing Tax Incentive ProgramThe Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) has announced $35 million in workforce housing tax credits to develop new housing across Iowa. The awards were made to support the construction of 57 housing projects in 30 counties statewide.

"Housing is a critical part of Iowa's efforts to attract and keep a skilled workforce, strengthen quality of life in our communities and grow the economy," said Debi Durham, Executive Director of IEDA and the Iowa Finance Authority. "The awards announced today will help more communities thrive and more families move where opportunities await them." 

Projects awarded in Storm Lake include:

    West Winds Townhomes: new single-family construction in Storm Lake. 8 units, awarded $282,600.

    Sunrise Pointe - Storm Lake, Phase II: new single-family construction in Storm Lake. 72 units, awarded $1,000,000.

    Storm Lake Apartments: new multi-family construction in Storm Lake. 36 units, awarded $948,690.


Lighthouse Blue


STORM LAKE | NEW HOUSING 



Nearly 260 new housing units are being constructed or planned in Storm Lake right now! That's the most at any one time in city history. This includes some two dozen single-family dwellings, 51 condo units (with another building planned for the near future), 36 market-rate apartments, several townhomes, and 170 duplex home units. 


Breeze Condos Exterior Image



Sunrise Pointe Construction of Homes

Photos: The Breeze Condominiums are nearing completion, with a few units already occupied.  Kading Properties' Sunrise Pointe development is also nearing completion of its first duplex homes.  


Lighthouse Blue


STORM LAKE | TYSON FOODS | FEED MILL



Tyson Foods Inc., has completed construction of their $50 million feed mill to supplement its turkey operations in Storm Lake, Iowa. The new facility adds 69 acres to the company’s existing turkey complex, which includes grow-out facilities, a research firm and a processing plant. 

The feed mill will be a critical piece to our business operations, and we look forward to seeing its impact across the United States and right here in Iowa,” said Noelle O’Mara, group president of prepared foods at Tyson Foods.  

Tyson uses corn and soybean meal from about 70 farmers within a 60-mile radius of Storm Lake to supply feed for the turkeys at its operations. 

Tyson Foods Feed Mill Ribbon Cutting

Photo: Tyson Foods Ribbon Cutting Ceremony  Source - Storm Lake Radio 

“The feed mill investment is critical to Storm Lake’s operations allowing team members to use the latest technology to manufacture ideal formulated feed that consistently meets nutrient and quality requirements for optimal turkey health,” Tyson said.

The company added that the mill would help support the growth of the Jimmy Dean, Hillshire Farm, State Fair and Ball Park products. 

More than 3,000 Tyson employees work at its facilities in Storm Lake. In Iowa, the company has more than 11,000 workers.


Lighthouse Blue


STORM LAKE | TYSON FOODS HOUSING GRANT 


IOWA LAKES CORRIDOR DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION AND TYSON FOODS ANNOUNCE $150,000 HOUSING PROJECT PARTNERSHIP - TWO STORM LAKE HOUSING PROJECTS RECEIVE GRANTS. 

Tyson Foods through a partnership with The Iowa Lakes Corridor Development Corporation (Corridor) has announced two grants totaling $150,000 for affordable housing projects.  The Sunrise Pointe Phase II project by Kading Properties and the West Wind Townhomes by Brash LLC will each receive grant funding toward their projects. 

The City of Storm Lake on behalf of the Corridor opened applications for housing grants at the end of March, requesting proposals that met the housing goals and objectives of Storm Lake. Proposals were evaluated and scored on a competitive basis.

Storm Lake, like many communities across Iowa, has a continuing need for more affordable housing. One of the major goals and priorities for Tyson Foods, The City of Storm Lake and the Corridor is to create, expand and maintain workforce housing.

“We are excited about our partnership with The Iowa Lakes Corridor Development Corporation to bring more affordable housing to the residents in Storm Lake,” said Russ Dierenfield, group manufacturing director for Tyson Foods. “High costs can burden working families as well as the economic health of the region. Tyson is committed to helping our team members and the community in the best ways we can.”

Tyson Housing Grant Check Presentation to Brash LLC

West Winds Townhomes will be developed by Brash LLC, consisting of four buildings with two units per building, totaling eight single-family dwellings. The townhomes each feature two bedrooms, two full baths, 1,250 square feet and a two-car attached garage. These dwellings are estimated to start construction this month with a predicted completion date of July 2024.

Kading Properties is in the process of constructing Sunrise Pointe Phase II, a 170-unit housing development on the northeast side of Storm Lake. All units will be offered as market-rate rentals to ensure affordability by the community’s workforce. Unit types will include both three-bedroom/one-bathroom and three-bedroom/two-bathroom floorplans, all with an attached garage. The project also includes a greenspace parkland which will be dedicated to the city for the enjoyment of the residents and other members of the Storm Lake community, as well as a walking trail that will run the north, east, and west sides of the perimeter of the property to connect to the future public multiuse trail on the south.

Tyson Housing Check Presentation - Kading

“Kading is grateful for the support we’ve received from the entire Storm Lake community for the housing project we currently have under construction, which will provide 170 new rental townhomes for local families,” shared Carrie Woerdeman, CPM, Director of Development with Kading Properties. “The housing grant provided through partnership between the City of Storm Lake, Tyson Foods, and Iowa Lakes Corridor will help ensure the success of the project and is particularly impactful in this time of volatile material costs and supply chain uncertainty. We could not be more excited to become a part of the Storm Lake Community!”

 

Lighthouse Red


STORM LAKE | MINI SOCCER PITCH 


NEW STORM LAKE MINI-PITCH GIVES KIDS THE ‘FEELING OF PLAYING IN A MINI-STADIUM

The new Storm Lake soccer Mini-Pitch in Chautauqua Park  is now open to the public. The Mini-Pitch is the result of a $100,000 fundraising campaign with the Kick It Forward Foundation.

Foundation founder Matt Sahag says, “We look forward to giving the kids of Storm Lake the feeling of playing in a ‘mini stadium’ and filling their appetite for soccer.”

Kick It Forward was created in 2012 by former college soccer players who are now business professional in Iowa, looking to pass their passion for the game on to the next generation. “We aim to develop athletic and life skills in youth soccer players, providing them with powerful resources to live healthy lives and promote social change,” the foundation board of directors expresses.

Storm Lake’s Mini-Pitch will be the 15th built in the state. In western Iowa, other Mini-Pitches have been developed in Sioux City and Council Bluffs.

A Mini-Pitch is a scaled-down, futsal-style soccer field built from durable galvanized steel, with built-in goals. The design was engineered by Oskaloosa, Iowa-based Musco Lighting, the company that is assembling the Storm Lake pitch and its state-of-the-art LED lighting. The concept is to transform underutilized spaces into places where children and families can enjoy activity.

Musco has lit NFL and Major League Baseball stadiums, Olympic Games and Rugby World Cup events, Daytona NASCAR speedway, and landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty, San Francisco Bay Bridge and Mount Rushmore.

Futsal is an international sport typically played five-on-five, on a hard surface. It differs from traditional soccer in that substitutions are on the fly hockey-style, there are no offsides to stop action, and the ball must stay below head height with no punting by goalkeepers.

The Storm Lake mini-pitch is located on the former site of a little-used tennis court in the park. The surface there is large enough to add a basketball court or other activity space to the north of the pitch  in the future.

Even without a real playing space, children have long repurposed the former tennis area for playing informal soccer, Kucera of Community Ed said. “Adding a Mini-Pitch in our community will be a tremendous advantage… having a safe and accessible place for our kids to gather with the local players offers and opportunity that does not currently exist.”

 “We are excited to see the commitment put forth by our partners, the City of Storm Lake, the BVU soccer program and Kick It Forward, to develop sustainable soccer ecosystems that will help the youth of Buena Vista County grow and develop their skills,” adds Musco President Jeff Rogers. “Revitalizing space and providing equal access are values we strongly support.”

Children Playing Soccer