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ICON Ag: Search for site began two years ago

Thursday, July 15, 2010

ICON Ag Solutions officials and local leaders break ground at the new site for the John Deere dealership's Le Mars business, between Key Avenue and the Highway 75 Bypass in southwest Le Mars. Sentinel photo by Magdalene Landegent
ICON Ag Solutions representatives shoveled the first dirt recently at the site of its planned new corporate headquarters on Key Avenue at the southwest edge of Le Mars.

Work is slated to start this month on the John Deere dealership's $2.5 million project, which will host the company's sales lot, service shop and administrative offices as soon as December.

According to Plymouth County Supervisor Don Kass, Monday's ceremony broke more than ground.

"It opens up the Key Avenue corridor," he said. "It kind of breaks the ice to get things moving out here, and maybe other businesses will look at it as the good location it is."

Key Avenue was paved in 2006, partially paid for through a state grant, awarded in relation to the construction of the Wells' Dairy corporate center near the intersection of Key Avenue and 200th Street.

Adam Timmerman, general manager for ICON Ag, speaks after breaking ground at the new site for the John Deere dealership's Le Mars business, between Key Avenue and the Highway 75 Bypass in southwest Le Mars. When it moves this winter, ICON Ag will be the first business along the Key Avenue corridor. Sentinel photo by Magdalene Landegent.
Until ICON Ag's announcement, the stretch along Key Avenue has remained undeveloped acres and farmland.

But ICON Ag leaders saw potential, according to the company's general manager Adam Timmerman, who spoke at the groundbreaking.

"When you look at it, it's obvious how perfectly it sits between a major highway and a secondary road here," Timmerman said, standing along Key Avenue. "There's a lot of access as far as getting our equipment in and out."

The visibility along Highway 75/60 is perfect for displaying equipment for sale, he added.

The new facility will be the business' first headquarters for corporate and administrative employees because of its central location among ICON Ag's five sites, Timmerman said

"Right now we travel around to all the different locations, which isn't always the most efficient," he said.

The site also offers more space than the current ICON Ag site north of Le Mars.

The current lot is about 12.5 acres, and the new lot is about 15, Timmerman said.

The new building, about 40,000 square feet, will house an expanded showroom, a larger lot for equipment, and a bigger shop with an overhead hoist, according to an ICON Ag news release.

"We really feel like this new facility is going to allow us to do a better job of meeting our customers' needs and helping make our employees more efficient," he said.

Ultimately, he said, the site may help grow ICON Ag's business -- including adding as many as 10 new employees.

The new Le Mars site will initially employ 16 people.

"Probably the first place we'll add employees is to the service department," Timmerman said, explaining that the larger shop will likely require hiring three or four people immediately.

With the move, ICON Ag will also add larger-scale bulk oil distribution to its roster.

Big bulk oil tanks will be installed at the Le Mars site. The company recently purchased a trailer to distribute the oil around the area.

Timmerman said they'll probably also hire an employee to deliver the oil.

The process of looking for a new site for ICON Ag started about two years ago -- even before company officials bought the former Midwest Equipment business in Le Mars in 2008, Timmerman said.

When ICON Ag bought that John Deere dealership, the existing site on 170th Street came with it, he said.

"We can't get big equipment and semis in there as easily as we'd like to, so we started our search," Timmerman said.

Plymouth County Economic Development Director Andrea Westergard said she and other county officials showed ICON Ag representatives the new site in 2009.

She shared Kass' view that ICON Ag's decision to move there might help get the ball rolling for other businesses to locate along Key Avenue, create jobs and grow the local business district.

"Within Le Mars, there's more food-grade industry, if we can get more light industrial out here it opens our chances to obtain all different types of businesses," Westergard said.

The collaboration among the City of Le Mars, Plymouth County and ICON Ag moved the project forward, she said.

Both the city and county are offering ICON Ag tax rebates for five years, starting June 2011.

The industrial tax exemptions from both entities will start at 75 percent the first year and diminish by steps each year to 15 percent the final year.

The ICON Ag site is within Le Mars city limits, and earlier this summer, the Le Mars City Council approved adding water and sewer lines to serve that area.

The $495,000 water and sewer projects will be paid for with Joint Urban Renewal dollars and will offer some of the needed utilities for ICON Ag's relocation, as well as any future development in the area.

The city will also provide soil as needed for the ICON Ag project, borrowed from the Le Mars Industrial Park Second Addition.

Timmerman thanked both the city and the county for their availability and assistance with the planned ICON Ag facility.

"Both the county and the city have extended open arms, welcomed us with open arms," he said. "It's no wonder there's been a lot of great economic development and success in the Le Mars area, because you've got a lot of great people working for you."

ICON Ag Solutions was formed in 2007 with its first three locations in Doon, Ireton and Paullina. Le Mars and Lawton sites were added in 2008.

A grand opening for the new Le Mars site on Key Avenue is planned for the spring or summer of 2011, Timmerman said.

"We're very excited about being here in the city of Le Mars and Plymouth County and the opportunities that are available to us," he said.

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