With $4.1 million in state incentives awarded, pet food manufacturer plans to start production in Dubuque

The former Flexsteel Industries manufacturing site located off of Seippel Road in Dubuque on Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. PHOTO CREDIT: JESSICA REILLY

With more than $4 million in state incentives awarded Friday, one of the nation’s leading pet food manufacturers announced its intention to start production at its new facility in Dubuque by July.

Plans call for the company to make an about $80 million investment and to employ 271 full-time workers at the former Flexsteel Industries site on Seippel Road within three years of production beginning.

The Iowa Economic Development Authority Board Friday awarded Simmons Pet Food an $800,000 forgivable loan, a $3 million investment tax credit over five years and a $300,000 sales, service and use tax refund. In exchange for the state benefits, the company agreed to create at least 206 jobs that pay at least $20.49 per hour, though another 65 jobs also are planned.

In the wake of that award, the company issued a press release formally announcing its plans to start up operations in Dubuque.

“This location will meet the needs for the two phases of expansion we have planned for our canned pet food operation in 2021 and beyond,” said David Jackson, chief operating officer of Simmons Foods, the parent company of Simmons Pet Food. “Equipment installation will begin very quickly, with the first phase of production scheduled to begin by July 1, 2021.”

This week, Dubuque City Council members also unanimously voted to consent to the company’s purchase of the Flexsteel facility, along with transferring a development agreement originally between the city and Flexsteel over to Simmons Pet Food.

With the development agreement, the company now can receive tax-increment-financing rebates and other incentives promised by the city not already claimed by Flexsteel.

Council members also previously agreed to set a Dec. 17 public hearing on a proposed development agreement between the city and Simmons Pet Food.

The agreement includes tax-increment-financing rebates estimated at about $3 million. The city also would provide a grant of more than $500,000, covering about half of the $1 million purchase price of 8.4 usable acres adjacent to the Flexsteel site that the company eventually would use for an expansion.

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