Spam continues to be very good for Dubuque.
An increase in the Spam production line is prompting a $13 million expansion at Progressive Processing, a subsidiary of Hormel Foods Corp. The retooling at the Chavenelle Road plant will allow the company to add 58 new positions in Dubuque, with at least 14 of them paying $23.39 an hour.
That’s great news for Dubuque to see an increase in quality jobs in the community.
In the continuing arms race that is state economic incentives, there are losers along with the winners. In addition to a tax-increment financing break from the city, Hormel landed about $575,000 in tax benefits through the state’s High-Quality Jobs Program. That means good news on this side of the Missouri River. Not so much in Nebraska. The Spam line will move from a Fremont, Neb., plant.
This is exactly why economic development officials believe working with local companies to help build workforce and accommodate growth is an important tool in retaining industry. Whether we like it or not, it’s a reality of economic development that corporations seek and receive incentives. That competition runs between states, counties and communities. For a community to not try to attract such opportunities would be to stagnate.
Instead, citizens should focus on the value of the incentives: Is the support commensurate with the value of the jobs?
In this case, it certainly is. For a solid company to add 58 jobs in Dubuque is significant. Those jobs will be filled by employees who themselves pay taxes — including money that goes toward incentives.
It’s exciting that Hormel sees something in Dubuque that is a key ingredient to growing its business. We will welcome the new employees to the workforce.
When two men were caught breaking into the Dallas County, Iowa, Courthouse, it sounded like a couple of criminals who had a very bad idea.
After all, a Judicial Branch facility would likely have a good alarm system. And law enforcement would likely respond quickly to an alarm from the courthouse. And they picked Sept. 11 to strike — a day that sets all emergency services workers on edge.
Yet, this story goes well beyond stupid criminals.
Law enforcement officials were surprised when the burglars, caught in the act by deputies, said they were just testing the
security of the building — and the response time by law
“Sure you were,” one can almost hear the deputies saying. That probably got a laugh back at the law enforcement center when the two were tossed into a cell.
But the laughter quickly faded when officials learned the would-be burglars were telling the truth. Worse — it was Iowa Court Administration that hired the men to serve as “penetration testers.”
Court Administration believed the agreement to test the physical security of various locations wouldn’t involve breaking and entering, but the details of that arrangement are still being disputed.
Regardless, this is a bad look for the Judicial Branch. Court Administration never warned county officials that any security testing would be going on. It’s lucky that no one was injured.
We’ve come to expect stories about stupid criminal behavior. We expect more from State Court Administration.
Over the summer, there was a petition circulated in Dubuque to change the Dubuque Community School Board representation to a system of wards, rather than seven at-large seats, as it is now.
Proponents of the change noted some disparities between downtown schools and West End schools, for example, and suggested that a lack of neighborhood representation on the board from low-income areas might be part of the problem.
We took issue with that logic in this space, noting that while many students in lower-income sections of the district face many challenges that their peers on the West End do not, it’s wrong to suggest that those problems are the result of collective inattention or indifference by school board members. While the current board has approved budgets and programs sending extra help to those struggling schools and students, and while it’s possible even more could be done, we don’t foresee significant changes under a ward set-up.
Proponents further suggested that interested candidates from low-income neighborhoods have not been able to get a seat at the table with seven at-large seats.
Then came this year’s filing period, in which one of the seats was wide open — Tom Barton did not seek re-election.
Did that result in candidates from various corners of the city lining up to run for a seat at the table? No. One candidate stepped forward. Three other incumbents did opt to run for re-election. So with four seats — a majority of the board — on the ballot, not a single challenge has arisen.
That should tell you something.
Citizens are not clamoring for a change in direction on the school board. When a seat goes unopposed, that’s a good indication that voters are comfortable with their representation.
This year’s ballot, with three incumbents and one newcomer running for four seats on the board, shows no indication that a move toward a ward system is necessary.