Our Results

3-Time Award Winner in the State

2019, 2017 and 2016 Professional Developers of Iowa Best in State award winner for Business Retention and Expansion Programming for Grow Lee. 


  • The award recognizes the outstanding efforts of local and regional economic development initiatives in supporting growth and expansion of existing Iowa companies.


Recognition by the International Economic Development Council

2019 Gold Excellence in Website Development Award Winner from the International Economic Development Council (IEDC)

The Lee County Economic Development Group won a Gold Excellence in Economic Development Award for Lee County EDG Website Development in the 25,000 – 200,000 population category from IEDC. 

The IEDC Excellence in Economic Development Awards program recognizes the world’s best economic development programs, marketing materials, and the year’s most influential leaders.

The Website category honors communities and organizations that are using the web as an effective marketing tool to promote services and offer information to clients. They are judged on the quality of content, interactivity, timeliness of information, navigability, and overall value for economic development efforts.

2017 Gold Excellence in Economic Development Award winner for Grow Lee from the International Economic Development Council (IEDC)

IEDC is the world's largest membership organization serving the economic development profession.

From public to private, rural to urban, and local to international, our members represent the entire range of economic development. Recipients of IEDC's Excellence in Economic Development Awards demonstrate to our experienced panel of judges that they are at the forefront of the economic development profession.

 About the International Economic Development Council

The International Economic Development Council (IEDC) is a non-profit membership organization serving economic developers. With more than 5,000 members, IEDC is the largest organization of its kind. Economic developers promote economic well-being and quality of life for their communities, by creating, retaining and expanding jobs that facilitate growth, enhance wealth and provide a stable tax base. From public to private, rural to urban, and local to international, IEDC’s members are engaged in the full range of economic development experience. Find out more at iedconline.org.





Impact on Workforce


 Over 4,000 students participated in Grow Lee and STEM Programming during the 2018-2019 school year

100% of Lee County schools participated in a STEM Scale-up program in the past 5 years.

  • The STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Scale-Up programs range from building robots and coding programs to conducting agricultural field experiences and learning about STEM careers.
  • This is in addition to Fort Madison High School and Keokuk High School receiving $25,000 each for the STEM BEST (Businesses Engaging Students and Teachers) program. 

1,816 participants at our 2019 STEM Festival, Over 400 Lee County students explored local careers

A total of 688 Lee County students participated in the Grow Lee Lego Robotics Program.  

 graduated three classes of our 12 Plus high school employability class, partnering with over 37 businesses and the students completing 80 hours of training in order to graduate. These graduates learn everything from the basics of soft skills to working on a project for a company.  

Lee County’s unemployment rate dropped from 9.8% in January 2013 to 3.0% in May of 2019





Expanding Businesses

11.8% of Southeast Iowa businesses who were surveyed plan on expanding their business. 

Conagra Invests $32 Million and Adds 91 New Jobs

he Lee County Conagra Brands facility announced today that they are expanding their facilities, investing $31,900,000 and adding approximately 91 jobs. The Lee County facility currently employs approximately 450 individuals.
To help facilitate this expansion and creation of jobs, the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) board has awarded Conagra $1.2 million over five years as part of the High-Quality Jobs tax credit program. In order to qualify for this program, the jobs must pay a minimum of $17.09 per hour at the beginning of the project and at least $20.51 once the project is completed. 
“Conagra has been a great partner to the community,” commented Lee County EDG Project Director Dana Millard. “We are excited about the announcement of this project and bringing additional high paying careers to Lee County,” Millard said.
The project will bring the production of canned beans to the Fort Madison facility. The expansion involves a significant investment of machinery and equipment however they do not plan to expand the physical footprint of the building. Equipment installation is scheduled to begin at the end of July.   
“We are excited to expand production at our facility,” said the plant’s manager, Bryan Langerud. “We continue to focus on the growth of our business and are pleased to create more opportunities in the Fort Madison area,” he said.
The plant has been part of the community since 1972 when it was opened by the Dial Corporation. In 2011, two additional lines were added to the plant to produce Birds Eye.
In 2015, Pinnacle Foods, which was acquired by Conagra in 2018, underwent another expansion to upgrade the Luncheon Meat and Combo hydrostats, which were two of the largest pieces of equipment in Pinnacle’s manufacturing network.
Conagra Brands, Inc. is one of North America’s leading branded foods companies. Conagra Brands’ portfolio includes Birds Eye®, Healthy Choice®, Banquet®, Marie Callender’s®, Slim Jim®, Chef Boyardee® and Gardein®. Find out more about Conagra by visiting their website, www.conagrabrands.com


Scotts Miracle Gro Adds 4,000 sq. ft and 50 new jobs

November 2018 - Scotts Miracle Gro Company is expecting a 30% increase in production volume due to an over 4,000 sq. ft. expansion. “We produce 70% of the liquid products for Scotts and next year we will produce over 95%,” said Leslie Malinski, Director of Liquid Operations. The company plans on strengthening its existing supply chain model, improving efficiency and cash flow by moving all their liquid production to the Fort Madison facility.

This expansion also is adding new jobs to the area. “Because of the expansion, we will add 40-50 full-time jobs and we will add another 50 seasonal jobs and we hope it leads to future growth,” Malinski said.

The Lee County facility currently has approximately 140 full-time employees, with over 35% of those employees having 15 years or more experience at the facility. Due to the seasonality of their products, Scotts also hires approximately 200 seasonal associates to meet their increased demand.

For more information about Scotts Miracle Gro or career opportunities visit their website at https://scottsmiraclegro.com

Frank Millard & Company Invests $2.6 Million

March 2018 - Frank Millard & Co. Inc. is bringing innovative technology to SE Iowa. Millard’s recently partnered with Mitton Valve Technologies for a new water cleaning technology. The technology can be used to clean dirty lakes, fracking –contaminated water and water polluted by livestock waste and can process up to 5,300 gallons of water a minute. The project includes plans to expand Millard’s existing facility as well as remolding former warehouse space into offices and conference space, a $2.6 million capital investment.

the Iowa Economic Development Authority awarded Frank Millard & Co. Inc. tax benefits from Iowa’s Targeted Jobs Withholding Tax Credit program for planning to bring 50 new jobs to the area due to this partnership and expansion. All these jobs are expected to exceed $30 an hour in wages.

Huffman Welding Invests $1.3 Million in Expansion

December 2017 -Huffman Welding and Machine Inc. broke ground on a 12,000 square foot addition, a $1.3 million total investment, bringing their total square footage to over 65,000 sq. feet.

This addition will be utilized for assembly work, fabrication and machining, adding a large CNC controlled horizontal boring mill as well as a 10-ton crane system. Co-owner Bob Huffman Jr. stated, “We’re very optimistic on the future. We have great employees, we’re located in Lee County with a lot of strong existing industries and this addition opens more doors for us.”

The addition is scheduled to be completed in July with the new equipment up and running in the 3rd quarter of this year. Huffman sees their added capabilities to lead to another round of growth for their business. The company also recently invested in a 332,832 kWh solar field, new CNC Mills and Lathes, new Lincoln Welders, 3D Printing, and sheet metal and tube bending equipment. For more information on their capabilities visit huffmanwelding.com.  

Otto Vending Invests in Lee County

July 2017 - Otto Vending Service Inc., a vending machine service, expanded its territory into Iowa by purchasing a building in Lee County. With this purchase, Otto Vending expects to add 10 new employees. Owner, Cody Otto said, "We are very excited about the opportunity of taking ownership of our incredible new facility in Fort Madison, it is not difficult at all for us to call this our “new home”, and we are so grateful for all the helping hands who have played such a monumental role in our development in Iowa." 

“I’ve been working strategically with the Lee County Economic Development Group to seek out a location,” Otto said. "Never have I felt so much support than I have after taking hold of our partnership with the Lee County community."

Otto Vending also had a company in Keokuk and the overall operation covers 18 counties in the Tri-State area, going as far north as Columbus Junction and as far west as Fairfield.

Over $3 Billion Iowa Fertilizer Company Celebrates Ribbon Cutting

May 2017 - Iowa Fertilizer Company (IFCo) and its parent company, OCI N.V. (Euronext: OCI), announced the official start of production at its plant in Wever in southeast Iowa. Gov. Terry Branstad, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, the Lee County Board of Supervisors and others joined OCI in an event to inaugurate one of the largest private-sector construction projects in Iowa’s history and the first world-scale, greenfield nitrogen fertilizer facility built in the United States in more than 25 years.

At the peak of construction, IFCo employed more than 3,500 workers and currently employs more than 200 full-time positions to operate the plant. Additionally, many more indirect positions will be created.

The event in Wever marked the culmination of a five-year collaboration between state and local economic development leaders, Republican and Democrat officials in southeast Iowa, the agricultural community, Iowa Fertilizer Company, and state leaders in the Branstad-Reynolds Administration.

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