Keokuk is an economic force in the Tri-State region with commercial and services businesses, first started because of Keokuks gateway river location. Business and industry have prospered thanks to strong community pride, support of the entrepreneurial spirit, commitment of citizens and Keokuks great location and transportation system. Forty-three percent of Keokuks workforce is employed by service, wholesale and retail entities that have continued, expanded, and diversified from the original fur traders. These businesses range from financial institutions to retail shopping, restaurants, and dance studios, and employ over 1,700 people.
Keokuks business district is primarily linear, running along Main Street and includes the two blocks on either side. It is pedestrian friendly with tree-lined streets and inviting shop windows. The district is anchored by the Keosippi Mall at the southeast end of town and extends to mega stores in the northwest corner with numerous small businesses located throughout the community, many which are service-oriented.
Because of its proximity to the river for a water source as well as transportation, early on Keokuk became a choice location for industries. Corn processing, pig iron, and steel castings industries located next to the river, as well as major meat packing plants. With the construction of the dam and hydroelectric plant in 1913, more industries located in Keokuk because of the availability of electric power. Many businesses have flourished throughout Keokuks history: from fur trading and patent medicines to pearl buttons and denim overalls.
Today, industry ranges from agricultural and architectural hardware to rubber, corn and wheat products.
A Tri-State labor force of about 15,000 (in a city with only 11,000 residents) makes up one of the most productive workforces in Iowa. A combination of the Midwest work ethic, advanced skills and training, and forward thinking creates a workforce about 20% more productive than the national average.
The industrial base supports jobs for the entire Tri-State area, with 30% of employees coming from Illinois and approximately 20% coming from Missouri.
Many of these industries, as well as other businesses, sell their products worldwide. Companies such as Metzeler Automotive Products, Griffin Wheel and Roquette America, Inc. have a strong commitment to the community, as seen in their investment in expansion projects.
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