IN TH FIRST: Plans call for $22.5 million warehouse in Dubuque, major employer to add 10 jobs

A development group plans to construct a $22.5 million warehouse and lease it to one of Dubuque’s largest employers, which will add at least 10 more jobs in conjunction with the project.

Seippel Warehouse LLC intends to buy 15.5 acres from the city and construct a 190,000-square-foot warehouse near Simmons Pet Food’s manufacturing facility at 501 Seippel Road. Once completed, the warehouse will be leased to the pet food manufacturer.

Dubuque-based company Gronen will lead the development and construction of the building on the site. Randy Schmitt, chief financial officer at Gronen, said his company is one of several partner investors that make up Seippel Warehouse LLC. The company is currently negotiating a long-term lease agreement with Simmons for the use of the warehouse.

“We partnered with Simmons before when they first came to Dubuque, so this is just continuing that partnership,” Schmitt said.

Simmons Pet Food started production in Dubuque in the summer of 2021 after moving into the 275,000 square-foot manufacturing facility originally built by Flexsteel Industries. It started a second pet food production line at the site last summer.

City documents state the company has invested more than $80 million at its manufacturing site.

Plans call for construction on the new warehouse to begin in April and be completed by the end of the year.

When contacted by the Telegraph Herald, Simmons Pet Food declined to provide comment on the project beyond what was stated by Chad Morris, senior vice president-supply chain for the company, in a press release provided by Gronen.

“Simmons Pet Food is continually looking for ways to improve operations to better serve our customers,” Morris said. “We are proud to be part of the Dubuque community and partner with Gronen and Dubuque Property Group again.”

Dubuque Property Group assisted Simmons in determining the site for the planned warehouse.

This week, Dubuque City Council members voted unanimously to schedule a public hearing on Feb. 20 for a proposed development agreement with Seippel Warehouse.

Under that agreement, the city would sell Seippel Warehouse a 15.5-acre parcel of land — about 9.9 acres of which are deemed “usable” — directly west of TriState Quality Metals’ location for $1,489,500. About $744,500 of that purchase cost would be reimbursed back to Seippel Warehouse through an acquisition grant provided by the city.

The TriState Quality Metals property is situated between the Simmons manufacturing facility and the proposed site of the warehouse. However, Simmons owns about 12.6 acres of additional land just south of the warehouse property as well.

The development agreement also would provide Seippel Warehouse with 10 years of tax-increment-financing rebates for the warehouse project, which Dubuque Economic Development Director Jill Connors said will likely amount to about $4.3 million.

“Simmons has been a great addition to our economy and our industrial park,” Connors said. “The fact that they continue to expand is great news.”

The development agreement would require that Simmons create the equivalent of 10 more full-time jobs by Dec. 1, 2024, on top of the equivalent of 271 such jobs that company agreed to create in a development agreement with the city approved in 2020.

If the required number of jobs are not added, Connors said Seippel Warehouse will be required to pay back a prorated amount of the acquisition grant.

Reached by the Telegraph Herald, City Council Member Ric Jones said he supports the project and the proposed development agreement, arguing that the city should do what it can to support continued job growth in the community.

“It’s another step in developing out the area out there,” Jones said. “They seem like a good employer, so I’m happy to support them.”

Council Member Danny Sprank echoed similar sentiments regarding the city supporting the manufacturer.

“Simmons has been a good partner since they came to our community,” Sprank said. “They are going to create more jobs with this, so it makes sense for us to support that.”