Niki Shepherd

In this Clinton Herald file photo from November 2019, Treats Process Operator Niki Shepherd oversees the making of Beggin’ Strips at Nestle Purina Pet Care Co. in Clinton.

DES MOINES — The Iowa Economic Development Authority Board on Friday announced it has approved awards for two legacy companies in Clinton – Nestlè Purina PetCare and Timken Drives.

Nestlé Purina officials say that company’s expansion represents a $140 million investment that will allow Purina to meet a growing demand from pet owners for nutritious, science-based dog and cat foods using high-quality and trusted ingredients.

“We are thrilled that Purina has chosen to expand its existing operations in Clinton,” said Erin M. Cole, president and CEO of the Clinton Regional Development Corp. “With a young, dynamic team, high-quality products and booming sales, they epitomize success in our community. We are privileged to have a strong working relationship with their local management team, and we stand ready to assist them as they move forward with this vital project.”

Purina, which employs 360 people in Clinton, established local operations in 1969. The expansion will add new processing and packaging lines for the production of “dry,” or kibble-based, pet foods and lead to total job growth of more than 60 positions. Purina has had a presence in Iowa since 1927 and also operates pet food factories in Fort Dodge and Davenport, with approximately 1,000 employees across the state.

“This announcement represents a significant expansion in jobs and infrastructure for rural Iowa,” said Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds. “Opportunity lives here, and we are working every day to make Iowa a beacon of economic prosperity. I want to congratulate Purina for 90 years of continued growth and success here in the Hawkeye state.”

Purina is the largest dry dog and cat food maker in the United States. Purina’s dry dog food business has grown 7 percent in the past year, which is twice the rate of the category overall. With a total investment of $140 million in this expansion by 2023, Purina’s Clinton factory will significantly increase the production of brands that feed millions of pets each year. Purina’s Clinton factory plays a unique role in the company’s network of 21 factories across the United States as it is a hub for innovation and design of new products, in addition to producing flagship brands including Purina ONE and Purina Pro Plan, both of which are experiencing double digit growth.

“Pet owners have trusted Purina for over 90 years, and demand for Purina products is strong and continues to grow,” said John Bear, vice president of Manufacturing, Purina. “Purina is proud to produce high quality products for dogs and cats at our Clinton factory. This expansion reflects an investment in our local operations and our commitment to continue delivering innovative and highly nutritious pet foods.”

In 2019, Purina invested more than $500 million into its factories across the United States for projects that help grow and sustain the business, including more than $30 million in Iowa operations alone.

“For more than 50 years, Purina’s Clinton factory has provided quality jobs for the region,” said Roger Brecht, Purina Clinton factory manager. “It’s an exciting time at Purina, and we’re proud to continue making the great foods that pets love while bringing even more quality jobs to the region.”

In addition to being a top employer in Clinton, the factory supports several area pet rescue and police K9 organizations, as well as other local organizations like Junior Achievement. Purina contributed more than $250,000 in pet food and monetary funding to non-profit organizations in 2019.

One of the factory’s recent contributions is a $10,000 donation to support the Clinton Humane Society. Purina also is an active supporter of environmental conservation throughout the state of Iowa with partners including Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever and Truterra, LLC (formerly Land O’Lakes SUSTAIN). Purina also applauds Reynolds’ commitment to enhancing water and soil health and outdoor recreation opportunities for all Iowans through her “Invest in Iowa” plan, which includes funding the I-WILL Trust.

“When a company can expand and add jobs here in Clinton, it truly is a good day,” said Clinton Mayor Scott Maddasion. “As a community, we are focused on skills-building and development to ensure that we’re matching people with jobs for the future. Purina’s expansion brings not only investment but good direct and indirect jobs for local residents. We are extremely excited for this expansion and Purina’s commitment to remaining a cornerstone business in Clinton. We look forward to continuing our strong partnership.”

Future job openings at the factory primarily include positions in production and maintenance. Job seekers can sign up to be among the first to hear about new opportunities in Clinton: https://purinajobs.com/joinclinton.

The IDEA also announced Friday that expansion plans are in the works for Timken Drives, which is located across the Mississippi River in Fulton, Illinois and will expand some of its operations into Clinton.

That company is a subsidiary of the Timken Company, a leading manufacturer of power transmission roller chains, large pitch leaf chains and engineered class chains for the industrial marketplace. In addition, Timken Drives manufactures agricultural conveyor chains and auger assemblies for the off-highway mobile industrial market.

To accommodate additional chain manufacturing at its Fulton location, the company plans to relocate its auger manufacturing operations to Clinton and make significant improvements to an existing facility.

The project, expected to generate $1.4 million in new capital investment, will create up to 84 jobs, 66 of which are incented at a qualifying hourly wage of $16.63.

Friday’s IDEA award comes on the heels of an announcement earlier this month that Timken Company had acquired Diamond Chain, located in Indianapolis, and will move those operations to Fulton. That will add nearly 130 jobs to the Timken Drives plant in Fulton, said Andy Sokolovich, existing industry manager with Clinton Regional Development Corp.

“The relocation will be completed over the next 24 to 36 months,” he said.

The Timken Company acquired Drives LLC in Fulton in 2011 for $92 million in cash, according to the company’s website. The company posted sales of approximately $100 million during the prior 12 months and employed 430 people in North America.