Harvest International, an auger manufacturer based in Cherokee, has announced that the company will be packing up and moving from Cherokee to Storm Lake.
Harvest International officials said they were in talks with Cherokee and Storm Lake for more than a year. In the end, they say Storm Lake's offer was just too good to pass up.
Harvest International Purchaser Sue Richardson stated, "In Storm Lake we'll have the opportunity to expand and grow our business."
Harvest International said that's the reason it's moving from its Cherokee headquarters. A moving date has been set for sometime in May 2011 and reopening about 23 miles away in Storm Lake.
Richardson also stated "There's been such a demand for our augers that right here we are challenged to keep up with the demand."
"It will be hard but we're excited about the expansion. Cherokee has been good to us and we appreciate all their efforts," said Richardson.
Right now, Harvest International is producing an average of 1000 augers a year, but the company wants to bump that number up to 1,200. Harvest International starts construction of a new, 74,000 square foot facility next month in Storm Lake. The company will be adding about 1/3 more manufacturing space in Storm Lake.
Harvest International said they will also be adding 10 more jobs to their 30-person workforce. Storm Lake leaders said this will create the opportunity to add jobs, and is why say they were so interested in talking with the company. That is why they threw in such incentives.
Storm Lake City Manager James Patrick said, "We offered them a forgivable loan to get them here, we offered them some tax rebates over the course of the next couple of years."
"I think it was a great offer and Storm Lake is a great place to be," said Richardson.
The new Harvest International facility will be built north of Storm Lake near the Bargloff Addition.
Cherokee City officials say they'll miss out on the benefits of having Harvest International in town. They also said that they couldn't compete with Storm Lake's home-town advantage.
"When they took a look at what was best for them and that being that two of the principal owners are from Storm Lake, I think they wanted to be there in their home community," said Mark Buschkamp, Executive Director of the Cherokee Area Economic Development Corporation (CAEDC).
Buschkamp added that CAEDC along with the Cherokee County Board of Supervisors, the City of Cherokee and the Cherokee Industrial Corporation worked diligently to put together a package that would insure that Harvest International would choose to stay in Cherokee but instead they choose to relocate to Storm Lake. The group was very aggressive, meeting with Harvest International almost weekly throughout the end of this process, acording to Buschkamp.
"This is very disappointing" stated Buschkamp. "We worked very hard to make sure this was the best deal we could possibly offer at the very best site location for Harvest International. My hat goes off to the Cherokee Board of Supervisors, the City of Cherokee, the Cherokee Area Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors, and the Cherokee Industrial Corporation for pulling together to create this powerful incentive package for this project. Although this powerful incentive package was not used by Harvest International, it is available to be re-created for future business development or expansion. In the end, with two of the principle owners of Harvest International living in Storm Lake, that is where they wanted to be."
The Cherokee officials said they offered Harvest International a "lucrative package" of incentives to stay in town, including a plan for a new facility.
Cherokee will miss out on those 10 new jobs, as well as the economic boost from all the supplies the company bought locally.
CAEDC, the CIC, Cherokee County, and the City of Cherokee supplied Harvest International with several incentives, including a forgivable loan, when it first announced that it was locating in Cherokee in 2007.
Obviously, those incentives have played out.