Monticello Grows in a Tough Economy

By Addison Speck

MONTICELLO -- New buildings are popping up all over Monticello as city leaders work to keep their community growing.

"If we are not doing anything than we are probably going backwards. We continue to make progress, always think what's next, so we can continue to attract people here and keep people here," said Doug Herman, the Monticello City Administrator.

Monticello has just under 4 thousand residents, a number that has steadily grown.

"If you look at communities less than 7 thousand across Iowa, a very small percentage of them grew from 2000 to 2010. We grew by 5 point 2 percent, just from a population stand point," said Herman.

Last February, the Atlanta-based company Georgia Pacific announced it would close its Monticello location, laying off about 45 workers. Around the same time, a local Hardee's also closed its doors. But in the year that has passed, the city is proud of all the new things they have offer.

"We've heard the word progressive a lot from people around town and people who come in town that aren't from here. They are just surprised at the many opportunities and the many things to do and see here," said Herman.

A brand new 1 point 2 million dollar building was built on the Great Jones County Fairgrounds. The Citizens State Bank Youth Development Center will house the Jones County Extension and Great Jones County Fair Offices. The Monticello Airport also got a new terminal building. The one million dollar project was funded by FAA AIP Entitlement funds and donations. On the Monticello golf course you will soon find a new clubhouse, which is currently under construction.

M-C Industries, a local factory, added on a 700 thousand dollar addition to their building. Oak Street Manufacturing, another local business, is also adding on with a 45 thousand square foot addition.

"Monticello works well because it's the center of the country. We have a lot of local trucking companies based in the area which makes our logistics easier to deal with," said Tom Bagge, of Oak Street Manufacturing.

With businesses expanding and building there has also been a continued flow of residential development and businesses looking to hire.

"Locally, we generally have a problem filling positions rather than having unemployment," said Herman.

As for the Georgia Pacific and Hardee's buildings, they've both been filled. The Hardee's building has now been filled with a Mexican restaurant. The Georgia Pacific building has been purchased by Naylor Bag and Supply, a company that produces, designs, and distributes all types of bags.

"Every corner of the community is seeing good things happen," said Herman.

Herman said Monticello's location, about 40 minutes from Cedar Rapids and about 40 minutes from Dubuque, helps the city appeal to those looking for a smaller town but who want to be able to easily get to a bigger city when needed. He said all the recent expanding, building, and growing has left those already in the community excited about what's happened and what's to come.

"We're willing to take chances and go after the new businesses and industries to provide jobs for the citizens and to maintain an active community," said Herman.
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