Letter to the Editor
The Hensall Condiment Project
Saturday, August 24, 2013
Every new company location or existing industry expansion project is unique. As I and my colleagues at the Iowa Lakes Corridor are currently working on 10 new and existing industry projects along with several start-up and young companies, we can attest that no two are ever alike. Following the public hearings at Spencer City Council on Aug. 19, I'd like to share how this California company and new food ingredient for export came to focus on Spencer.
The Hensall project came to us from the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) with a request for proposal (RFP) and the opportunity to submit communities and industrial sites for a new food ingredient manufacturer. It was a "green" industry as it was going to use a waste product -- spent hens. It also wanted to be in an industrial area with "green" characteristics as it would be pursuing major national retailers that have an emphasis on green manufacturing practices. Spencer and the Green Industrial Center were not the only communities and sites in the Corridor region or in Iowa that were submitted to Mr. Quan Phu to consider. Being a large user of water and needing substantial wastewater treatment capacity along with a large number of acres (25-40) were also required and this limited the number of sites and communities that could meet his facility requirements. Spencer did.
As we learned more about the project, we became interested enough to want to do due diligence. A group of seven flew to California in October to see existing business operations and get to know Quan. Spencer city officials also met with local California city officials to ask about their experience with Quan and his businesses. Our due diligence told us this was a viable opportunity for Spencer. We began to discuss the project with key business and community leaders to gauge the level of interest and support; it was strong. We informed Quan that the Spencer zoning ordinances did not allow for the processing of any fowl or animals and would be willing to work to see if changing the ordinances to accommodate a project like this would be possible. Quan wanted to pursue and to focus on a site on the far eastern edge of the Green Industrial Center.
There are many pieces to this project that are still a work in progress but they are all moving forward. This project is estimated to have an annual economic impact of over $50 million once it reaches 250 employees (projected to occur in year 3). They are high-paying jobs and will further diversify and improve the local economy of Spencer and the Corridor regional economy. The spin-off benefits are significant. I encourage residents to get the facts and talk with any of us who have been working on this project since July 2012. I also encourage the Spencer City Council to continue to move the project forward.