Pet food manufacturer gathers staff, community leaders to celebrate start of production in Dubuque

Published: Jul. 22, 2021 at 4:34 AM CDT
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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG) - Simmons Pet Food staff and Dubuque community leaders held a ribbon cutting ceremony Wednesday to celebrate the start of production of the pet food manufacturer. Production, however, has been up and running since Monday, July 5.

”For us today, it could not be more monstrous to be able to come to Dubuque, work in such a great community, provide needed jobs for folks,” Brian Potter, vice-president of operations, said.

Simmons invested $100 million on the project. Officials say they are employing around 150 people right now, but they expect that number to reach 210 within the next 30 days and 270 by next April. That would make up for the more than 200 jobs the city lost last year when Flextsteel Industries decided to vacate that same building. The types of jobs created include research and development, accounting, quality control, production workers, maintenance techs, engineers, programmers, and human resources.

”We have done projects in the past, this was a pretty big one and to do it in seven months was a shorter timeline than we normally would do things,” Wes McClure, senior vice-president of operations, mentioned. “So it is very exciting to see it all coming together.”

McClure said they had to renovate the building to accommodate a canned food operation.

“The footprint was expanded slightly with a cooler addition in the back, and then we put a boiler room in the front,” he commented. “Did a couple of different things in the back as far as shipping docks, but the inside of the building, the original 250,000 square feet, is where we will be doing all of our production.”

Molly Grover, president and CEO of the Dubuque Area Chamber of Commerce, said this all started thanks to the city’s metropolitan statistical (MSA) area designation, a status that, until last week, the city was in jeopardy of losing.

”Projects such as this might not happen, probably would not happen if you are not on that MSA list,” Grover explained. “It is the very first place that site locators will look at when they are looking at communities that are gonna have the capacity, the infrastructure, the systems in place to be able to accommodate and be able to address the needs that a corporation or company is going to need to grow and be successful.”

To that point, McClure added, Simmons officials did not know much about Dubuque before their first visit to meet with local economy leaders.

“We traveled to a few different places looking to see where we wanted to take our next step and when we came to Dubuque we knew this was where we wanted to be,” he said.

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