Gov. Kim Reynolds toured Story County on Friday, stopping at three major manufacturing facilities to celebrate their economic growth.
She visited Burke Marketing Corp. in Nevada, M.H. Eby Inc. in Story City and 3M in Ames. All of these businesses are receiving tax benefits in return for large capital expenditures for facility growth and job creation, according to a press release from the Ames Economic Development Commission.
“We’ve done our best in the legislative process to reduce taxes and make the regulatory environment fair and predictable so industry can grow,” Reynolds said.
She spoke before a group of nearly 40 people, comprised of 3M employees, state senators and local city officials.
3M is investing approximately $27.8 million for their new project, which will add 30,000 square feet to their facility, climate control capabilities to their plant and 16 new jobs which will pay just over $26 per hour.
“As 3M grows, we make our presence in Ames for engineers and other university students even greater,” said Nate Erwin, an Iowa State alumnus and supply chain manager at 3M.
Erwin began working full time for 3M one month before he graduated. For him and other employees, 3M functioned as a pipeline from college to the private sector. He began working in internet technology 11 years ago.
3M is a science and technology company that, according to their company profile, “has a global presence with markets in… industrial, safety and graphics, electronics and energy, health care and consumer business sectors.” The Ames facility mostly produces abrasives for woodworking, such as sandpaper.
The nearly $30 million investment is the largest 3M has ever made. Tim Gartin of the Ames City Council said he was very excited to see such large economic investment from private industry.
“It’s very important for a city with a lot of public sector jobs to create a lot of private sector jobs as well,” Gartin said. “A city [that relies heavily on the public sector] could be devastated by budget cuts.”
Gartin also praised 3M, calling them a “good corporate citizen,” referring to their job creation and how they offer internships to a variety of majors at Iowa State.
“Not all businesses give back equally,” Gartin said. “A lot of businesses show up and they just want to take. I want people and businesses to be a part of something greater than themselves, and 3M shares that idea.”
3M first opened its Ames facility doors in 1970. At first they had just 13 employees, but that number has grown to nearly 400.
“This is the largest amount of money we’ve contributed to a single project,” said Jeff Biehn, plant manager for 3M in Ames. “This project will help advance our technologies, improve our current facilities and provide 16 new jobs in the process.”
After the event, Reynolds signed a plaque for 3M, honoring the company’s progress and Reynold’s commitment to private businesses.
“You guys are doing the work, we’re just creating the environment you can work in,” Reynolds said. “I’m proud to be here and be a part of this success.”
The 3M project is still in its early stages. Approval was gained on Sept. 17, and construction and operational changes are beginning immediately. The project is scheduled to finish in 2021. Reynolds praised Iowa's business economy as the reason 3M qualified for the project.
"There's a lot of out of state competition for these kinds of things," Reynolds said. "We have a low cost of doing business, the second lowest in the county, and low taxes for businesses."
A correction was made at 1:13 a.m. concerning 3M's activity moving forward. The original article incorrectly reported construction won't begin until 2021, but, as the article now reads, operations are beginning immediately to be completed by 2021.