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Sioux Center officials offer economic development presentation

WORTHINGTON -- Officials from Sioux Center, Iowa spoke Tuesday in Worthington about their city's economic development corporation, which takes a unique approach in addressing commercial and housing needs.

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WORTHINGTON - Officials from Sioux Center, Iowa spoke Tuesday in Worthington about their city’s economic development corporation, which takes a unique approach in addressing commercial and housing needs.

 

The presentation,  made during a Noon Kiwanis meeting, comes at a time when Worthington officials are considering how the city should fundamentally approach economic development.

Sioux Center Land Development (SCLD) was founded in 1964 by a small group of investors who wanted to see the city grow. SCLD needed seed money to purchase land, so interested citizens were encouraged to buy into the company at $100 per share. More than 50 years later, the buy-in is still $100 and SCLD has more than 300 shareholders.

 

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It’s not a typical investment from which the shareholder expects a profit - the return comes in the form of added amenities to the community.

 

SCLD’s first project was purchasing 80 acres near U.S. 75 and developing an industrial park for businesses to set up shop. With the city’s help, the entity even constructed buildings for businesses to lease or purchase, including locations for a medical clinic and packing plant.

 

“It’s really to address gaps in our market that aren’t being served,” said Dennis Dokter, SCLD board member. “If something isn’t being done, we will work to get it done.”

In the last 20 years, SCLD has put more focus into creating affordable housing to better accommodate a growing workforce and attract out-of-town employees. More than 90 units have been built on the north side of Sioux Center since SCLD started developing the land in 2001.

 

Among other projects, SCLD also helped establish a golf course, around which it has developed 115 residential lots. Nearly all of the lots have been sold - SCLD will develop the remaining 142 lots in the near future.

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The corporation currently has 900 acres of land it can develop for interested businesses or housing developers. Some of the land is miles away from Sioux Center city limits - SCLD will often trade that land to farmers for lots closer to the city.

 

Dokter said the city’s retail sales have doubled in the last 10 years. He added that the city’s employers enlist workers from 95 different zip codes.

 

SCLD has caught the attention of some Worthington officials. Last month, Worthington officials met with SCLD members to learn more about their operation.

 

Whether the city goes in Sioux Center’s direction remains to be seen. Some Worthington residents in attendance Tuesday disapproved of SCLD concepts, while others embraced the idea of developing land for interested businesses.

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