TH EXCLUSIVE: Manufacturing company plans 1st Iowa location in Dyersville

DYERSVILLE, Iowa — A manufacturing company looking to expand its operations has selected Dyersville as its first Iowa location.

Zero Zone, which makes refrigeration and freezing units for grocery and convenience stores, plans to move into a speculative building at 2336 Industrial Parkway SW, pending approval from local and state officials.

The company is headquartered in North Prairie, Wis., and has additional locations in Waukesha, Wis., and Ramsey, Minn.

“Clearly, a quality company like Zero Zone is a major feather in anybody’s cap,” said Jacque Rahe, executive director of Dyersville Economic Development Corp. “They’ve successfully grown their business, and they have a great employee base.”

Rick Steer, vice president and general manager of the Zero Zone systems division, said the company hopes to open the new facility in late January or early February. While the facility will start with 15 to 20 employees, Steer said that number will grow to more than 50 people.

“This is a big deal for Zero Zone,” he said. “… We clearly have the business. We just need to develop the plant and train the employees and get it up to speed.”

Before the new facility project is official, however, the Dyersville City Council and Iowa Economic Development Authority both must approve the company’s application.

Jason White, vice president of business services for Greater Dubuque Development Corp., said Dyersville City Council members will consider passing a resolution in support of the project at tonight’s meeting.

Then, the Zero Zone application will be considered by the Iowa Economic Development Authority on Sept. 17 for state funding incentives.

In order to qualify for the state dollars, White said Dyersville council members must agree to match 25% of the state incentives. In total, he said, the facility has a capital investment of $2.1 million.

Rahe said the city’s match will stem from an agreement already in place between the city and the property developer of the speculative building, Advance Properties. The deal states that a portion of an 80% tax rebate on the new valuation of the building will go toward the project.

The exact amount of the tax rebate going toward the Zero Zone facility is currently unknown, Rahe said, as the property’s new valuation will be determined after the building is complete. But the amount will “far exceed” the needed match for state incentives, she said.

White said that conversations about a Zero Zone location in the greater Dubuque area began in late May, when the company was looking at communities throughout the Midwest for potential expansion.

“The most important thing (for Zero Zone) is a good climate conducive to attracting workforce and somewhere that has solutions for attracting workforce, and that’s one of the things that Greater Dubuque emphasized,” White said.

He added that Zero Zone officials hoped to find an already-completed or nearly completed building for a new facility, and the 52,500-square-foot speculative building in Dyersville provided the right amount of space.

Steer added that Zero Zone sought a community close to technical colleges in order to recruit skilled employees and allow for more training opportunities. He said area technical college officials were at the initial meeting held with Greater Dubuque Development Corp. and Dyersville officials about a local Zero Zone space.

“In that meeting, I could feel the community, the collaborations in this group,” Steer said. “It really impressed me how the greater Dubuque community really stuck together for each other’s success.”

Steer added that the site’s close location to U.S. 20 was another selling point.

“In rural areas, people are willing to drive as much as 45 minutes to work,” he said. “When you look at that type of geographical area, that really expands the available labor pool.”

Rahe said Zero Zone will be a great addition to the Dyersville Industrial Park, which already boasts several strong companies.

“They really do a lot to enhance the quality of life for their employees, and I think Zero Zone will really fit right in with that,” she said.

Carl Petersen, Zero Zone director of marketing, added that the company has maintained a family-like atmosphere as it expanded over the last 60 years, and he believes Dyersville will be a good fit to continue the company culture.

“We look forward to that type of atmosphere, that type of work ethic and togetherness that we actually already embody in our other facilities,” he said.