On Monday, the Nevada City Council gave its approval to “a resolution of intent to provide economic development and infrastructure support” to a possible $150 million expansion for Hormel/Burke Corporation in Nevada.


Burke Corporation, the maker of pizza toppings and other fully cooked meat products since 1974, which was acquired by Hormel in 2007, currently employs 350 people at its Nevada plant that sits along South D Avenue, just to the north of Highway 30. Officials said Monday that if the expansion project is approved by Hormel, it would add another 210 jobs to the Nevada plant — jobs that would have starting pay of $16 an hour and higher.


John Hall, director of the Nevada Economic Development Council, began the presentation to the council by noting that working on this project has kept him and the city busy for the past few months. “Burke Corporation approached us a couple months ago about a possible major expansion,” he said, explaining that the Nevada Hormel operation is just one of several possible plants that could be selected by Hormel for the expansion. “We want to lock this expansion to this location,” Hall said, emphasizing that the employment that this project will bring are “very good jobs,” and jobs no one here wants to see going to another community.


Because Nevada’s plant is in competition with other Hormel plants to “win” this project, Hall said the city needed to be competitive with its incentives. “We wanted to make a strong proposal…but not leave the community in jeopardy,” he said.


Asked of the city of Nevada were the following:


• a 10-year 100 percent tax abatement (which is what other communities are proposing in their incentive packages)


• road infrastructure improvements, including the paving of South D Avenue (much of which, Hall said, would hopefully be paid for by grant funds)


• a new wastewater treatment facility, which the city is already committed to and is set to happen by 2023


“All in all, we think this is a solid proposal and one we think Hormel will look positively upon,” Hall said.


Other ‘asks’ were set to happen on Tuesday when Hall and Burke officials would speak to the Story County Board of Supervisors and the Ames City Council.


Hall said the BOS was being asked to pass a resolution of support for the RISE (grant) application going to the Iowa DOT. “In that resolution, it asks that the county staff is directed to assess mechanisms for the county to assist in such financial assistance programs and processes going forward,” Hall explained after the council meeting. The Board of Supervisors approved their resolution Tuesday morning.


The city of Ames, Hall said, was being asked to vote on having staff begin negotiations with the city of Nevada and Burke Corporation and bring back a contract to accept wastewater (from the plant) on an interim basis to provide a solution until the new Nevada wastewater treatment plant is online. XXXXXXX


Chad Randick, president of Burke Corporation, and Tracy Brown, vice president of operations for Burke, were present, showing the council drawings of the predicted expansion and speaking a little further about their hopes for the project to be located in Nevada.


“Hormel has over 30 plant locations,” Randick said, noting that they would be looking at all the possibilities for this expansion. “We certainly have the expertise here…but it’s truly still in the evaluation process (for Hormel),” he said.


Yet Randick and Brown were optimistic about Nevada’s chances. They have the room for the 200,000-square-foot expansion on the green space that sits along South B Avenue in front (north) of the current plant. Burke’s current plant encompasses only seven of the 21 total acres it owns at the site.


Randick said the company would need to have one additional entrance to its property, and was needing that to create as much separation as possible between its employee traffic to the plant and truck traffic.


When asked about how this expansion would affect truck traffic, officials noted that it would not quite double it on a daily basis. They currently have about 40 trucks in and out each day.


City Administrator Matt Mardesen said if the project is approved by Hormel, the city would then begin traffic studies in the area to determine what changes might be needed to assure safety and accommodate the increase.


Randick also told the council that Burke is putting significant investment into its own wastewater treatment operations. “We don’t want to put the city or ourselves in jeopardy,” he said, noting that the plant will have a loadout station to store wastewater if their limits ever get too high on a certain day.


When asked by Councilwoman Barb Mittman if this expansion was the last they would ever do or if they still had room for additional expansion, Brown said they have allotted for the possibility to expand again sometime down the road if ever needed and approved.