Hormel to expand production in Dubuque, creating 38 new jobs

Dubuque City Council meeting

Dubuque City Council members will meet at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 18, in the second-floor chambers of the Historic Federal Building, 350 W. Sixth St.

The meeting will be shown live on Mediacom cable channels 8 and 117.2, at cityofdubuque.org/media and at facebook.com/cityofdubuque.

Those wishing to submit input before or during the meeting can contact ctyclerk@cityofdubuque.org. Members of the public also can provide audio and written input during sections of the agenda in which public input is accepted by logging in to global.gotomeeting.com/join/337661181. The public also can join the meeting by phone by dialing 877-568-4106 and using access code 337-661-181. Individuals must include their name and address in order to be recognized.

A full meeting agenda with links containing supporting documents can be found at bit.ly/3bPILe5.

A food manufacturer plans a $43 million investment in its Dubuque plant and the creation of 38 more jobs.

Progressive Processing, LLC, a subsidiary of Hormel Foods Corp., intends to remodel its Dubuque facility and purchase new equipment to increase capacity for Spam production, according to City of Dubuque documents. The project is contingent upon the receipt of state financial incentives, according to a press release from Greater Dubuque Development Corp.

The manufacturing plant at 1205 Chavenelle Court opened in 2010 and produces microwave meals, canned chunk chicken, Spam and bacon bits. It currently employs about 440 people.

“We are proud to call Dubuque home and are excited to continue our growth in the community and provide quality job opportunities for this area,” said Joe Muzik, plant manager at Progressive Processing, in the release.

Company officials did not respond to requests for additional comment.

The 38 jobs would qualify for the Iowa Economic Development Authority High Quality Jobs incentive program. Through that program, the company is requesting state investment tax credits totaling $1.1 million and a $180,000 sales tax refund. Hormel also plans to borrow $200,000 for the project from East Central Intergovernmental Association through its local revolving loan fund.

The company’s application to the state provides some details about the planned expansion.

Hormel intends to begin construction at its facility in early 2022 and begin expanded production by February 2023.

The new positions created by the expansion would include 30 “operations and production” positions with hourly wages starting at $21.14 per hour, four maintenance technicians starting at $29 per hour and four production supervisor positions with annual salaries ranging from $55,000 to $65,000.

The application also breaks down how Hormel will invest the $43 million into the Dubuque facility.

A total of $6 million will go toward remodeling the building. About $31 million will be used to purchase new manufacturing machinery and equipment, along with an additional $5 million in other machinery and equipment purchases.

The company also will purchase $800,000 in computer hardware and make furniture and fixture purchases totaling $200,000.

The latest proposal would mark the third time Hormel has grown its food production in Dubuque. In 2015, the company introduced Spam and bacon bits production to the facility. In 2019, the company spent $13 million and added 58 new positions to expand its Spam production.

The expansion of Spam production comes as sales of the meat product continue to increase. Last year, Hormel announced that it had garnered record sales of Spam for the seventh year in a row.

Dubuque Economic Development Director Jill Connors said news of Hormel’s plans proves the city’s status as a business-friendly environment.

“Hormel has operations in half a dozen other countries, and they are choosing to expand in Dubuque,” she said. “That speaks well of us and what we are able to provide.”

City Council members on Tuesday, Jan. 18, will consider authorizing the filing of the application on behalf of the business for the state incentives. No incentives from the city are noted in city documents.

Reached Friday, City Council Member Susan Farber said the project would greatly benefit the community by creating jobs and economic growth.

“I think that it is something to be enthusiastic about,” she said.

Council Member Ric Jones echoed Connors’ sentiments, saying Hormel’s decision to expand its Dubuque plant signals the city can continue to attract future business development.

“We have a company that chose to locate and expand here,” he said. “That puts a real positive light on the community, and we’ll live up to it.”