MAQUOKETA, Iowa — City of Maquoketa leaders recently signed a letter indicating a willingness to work with a company that could bring up to 200 manufacturing jobs to the community.
There is, however, a substantial catch. The nonbinding letter of intent was signed without officials knowing many details about the company — including its name.
“It is kind of an uncommon process,” said Nic Hockenberry, director of Jackson County Economic Alliance. “This isn’t usually how it works if you’re being considered for a site, but we take all inquiries seriously.”
The alliance worked with the company to bring the letter to City of Maquoketa leaders. Ultimately, it is City Council members who determine what, if any, benefits — such as tax-increment financing — to award developers.
The letter states that if Maquoketa is chosen for the project, city leaders will work to create a development agreement with the company. The objective is to have that agreement in place “within the next 120 days, if not sooner,” the letter stated.
Developers would seek to acquire a 10-acre parcel on which they would construct a 75,000- to 90,000-square-foot facility. Five to 200 jobs that “will meet or exceed (the) county’s hourly wage with competitive benefits” will be created.
The city would provide the land and help install utilities to the site. City officials also would work to pave roads to the lot.
“If our location is selected as an ideal location, the city will negotiate,” said City Manager Gerald Smith. “It’s a way (for) a business that doesn’t want to waste its time. ... It wants to streamline the process.”
Hockenberry said the process is in the “very, very initial stages.” He doesn’t know how many sites are being considered or specifically when a decision will be made, though he expects it will be within a few months.
“No ground is moving this year would be my guess,” Hockenberry said.
Smith said that, in his 30 years working in public administration, he has never seen a situation quite like this. City officials have not been given any additional information about the company.
“It’s one of those things that’s very confidential,” he said. “We don’t know a lot about anything other than the form we were provided.”