MASON CITY, Iowa - It's one of the largest economic development projects north Iowa has seen in the last several years.
Announced on Monday, Owatonna-based Bushel Boy Farms is proposing an expansion into Mason City.
The company grows vine-ripened tomatoes and sells them locally.
A large greenhouse would be built just off 43rd Street in Mason City, directly east of Alliant Energy Headquarters, south of the Avenue of the Saints.
“I think that's going to be awesome,” Carolyn Ferch, who likes tomatoes but is picky about her produce, said. “I make sure it's crisp and fresh, that's important to me.”
So she is happy to hear about the hydroponic farm coming to Mason City. As is Chad Schreck, the man behind the deal with Bushel Boy Farms.
“It's a win-win for everyone. We've gotten positive feedback from pretty much every one we've talked to,” says Chad Schreck, President and CEO of the North Iowa Corridor Economic Development Corporation.
The project is expected to create 50 to 100 new jobs in the area. It’s a positive thing, as long as they can fill them.
“We've got quite a few jobs that need to be filled in our current facilities so there's always that challenge that we are trying to weigh,” says Scheck
But he is confident the hype around this project will draw applicants.
“It seems as we have these new projects and larger scale job opportunities, people really flock to that.”
When it comes to incentives provided by Mason City, on Tuesday the city council will discuss the possibility of a new service road that would serve Bushel Boy Farms and future developments.
“This new road will open up further economic development for us near the site so it's going deeper into an area by the Avenue that currently doesn't have great road access,” says Schreck.
If approved the road would cost the city a couple hundred thousand dollars.
“I'm glad they're coming and I wish them the best of luck,” says Ferch.
North Iowa food shelves could benefit from this project as well. All tomatoes that aren't quite up to par are donated to local pantries twice a week. The project is expected to cost $35 million.
The goal is to be operational by this time next year.