The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

March 12, 2013

HERALD'S OPINION: Clinton’s selection should bolster community spirit

The Herald's Opinion

CLINTON — There are good days and then there are very good days. For the city of Clinton, Friday was the latter of the two.

For years, the Clinton Regional Development Corp. has been working alongside the city and county to develop what is known as the Lincolnway Railport, which is located west of Clinton and is in an area best described as where the Mississippi River meets the Union Pacific Railroad.

Near US 30 and the Clinton Municipal Airport, leaders as many as 15 years ago identified this spot as a prime location for a rail park, where businesses could set up and have all the benefits of many modes of transportation for distribution.

A lot of meetings were conducted over the years, a lot of money committed — and of course with it, questions from residents about what is going to happen out there and when it will be.

It's never easy to be patient when you're talking about putting money into something whose payoff in the form of good-paying jobs is needed as soon as possible.

On Friday, we saw all that work start to pay off.

On that day it was announced two businesses have selected that location to build, pending the approval of local and state incentives. RAIL.ONE, a German manufacturer of railway track systems, and Utah-based Nevada Railroad Materials, Inc. will work in conjunction to become the first-rail served tenants in the park, bringing with them up to 90 new jobs combined.

RAIL.ONE will build a new manufacturing facility for the production of concrete rail ties in the railport, which has a main line connection to one of the Union Pacific’s busiest lines. The new factory will be RAIL.ONE’s first plant in North America. The total economic impact of the RAIL.ONE project is estimated to be $20 million, with 62 direct jobs. According to Clinton Mayor Mark Vulich, RAIL.ONE plans to break ground in May in order to be in full production by February of next year.  

NRM will partner with RAIL.ONE, supplying railroad cars to the company and recycling old, wooden railroad ties. In business for 20 years, NRM is headquartered in Ogden, Utah, with additional locations in Arizona, Oregon and Nebraska.

And then on the same day, Data Dimensions, which is headquartered in Janesville, Wis., but has had a location in Clinton for 25 years, announced it will be building in the Lyons Business and Technology Park.

The operations center is a capital investment of $6.2 million and will bring 130 full-time jobs to Clinton, doubling Data Dimensions’ current Clinton workforce. These jobs will pay between $10 and $20 an hour, Mark Bush, chairman of Data Dimensions, said.   

The new facility will occupy about 5 acres behind the Winkel, Parker and Foster building and be nearly double the size of Data Dimensions’ current facility located at 2001 Manufacturing Court.

It also will house a state-of-the-art Tier II data center and will allow the company to service its tremendous growth anticipated over the next three years, according to Clinton officials.

This is good news.

Beyond that, it also should be viewed as a boost for the city's reputation as a whole, and in the way we all look at Clinton.

As CRDC Board of Directors Chairman Rich Phelan said at Friday's announcement, this is the time for Clinton to realize the payback of a lot of hard work.

It also is a time when we can be proud of Clinton, which we also learned is considered the best micropolitan in the state when it comes to economic development.

Yes, there are problems, many of them related to city services that are in the process of being shored up.

But Clinton has a lot to offer. These three businesses recognize that. It’s time we all do.