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Business and Industry

manufacturing and agriculture

Washington and Washington County have a prosperous mix of manufacturing and agriculture that is a core part of the area’s economy. While the recession of 2008 put a strain on many businesses, Washington County business and industry fared better than most of Iowa as well as the nation. No manufacturers have closed and many have experienced robust growth and expanding markets.

farming

Most all of the area’s manufacturers were entrepreneurial start-ups at one time. A number of major manufacturers in Washington County make products for the broad agricultural equipment and construction sector, several of which have global markets. These include companies like Modine Manufacturing, Bazooka Farmstar, Premier 1 Supplies, Whitesell Corporation, PowerCom Motor Controls, HogSlat, Syngenta Seeds, Miller Hybrids and Slabach Enterprises. Plastics firms like ACH Foam Technologies and Engineered Plastic Components have added new capacities and markets in the past several years as demand for lighter, durable components has grown.

Business and Industry

Other specialty manufacturers serve more specialized markets such as building component manufacturer Engineered Building Design, boutique design clockmakers Schlabaugh & Sons, and medical equipment maker Civco Medical Solutions in Kalona and MD Orthopaedics in Wayland.

Newer companies like Iowa Renewable Energy, LLC and LVA Crawfordsville BioFuels forcus on renewable energy and are producing biodiesel from vegetable oils and even animal grease.

Agriculture in Washington County

Agriculture in Washington County is unique in many ways. The farming community is young, educated and innovative. Rather than just relying on row-crops, Washington County is a national leader in hog production, which are all locally owned. In addition to hogs, the country is also a national leader in corn, soybean and beef production. There are also large amounts of turkey production, chickens, goats, and limited cattle and dairy production. Innovation has led to companies serving the livestock building, animal feed, animal waste, and energy efficiency, including wind and solar power.

The Washington County area has one of the largest concentrations of organic farms in the Midwest. There are two organic soybean extrusion plants, including Professional Proteins, which makes organic feed for organic livestock, and Farmers Hen House processing natural and organic eggs. The fast growing, Farmers All Natural Creamery, sells organic milk, cheese, yogurt and butter throughout the Midwest and even the East Coast.

Local business and industry is fortunate to have considerable support from a handful of resources, which includes the benefits of having a revered community college at hand. With the presence of Kirkwood Community College, Washington is teeming with dedicated, highly skilled and well-educated workers, with the additional benefits of workforce training and continuing education courses.

The Washington Economic Development Group (WEDG) is a non-profit, public-private partnership that helps to create a positive environment for business and industry around Washington County and Southeast Iowa. WEDG partners with a wide variety of resources and organizations to help meet the need of the business community, including area banks, accountants, and regional resources like the Small Business Development Center, the Entrepreneurial Development Center business accelerator, the Community Vitality Center, the East Central Iowa Council of Governments, and the Iowa Economic Development Authority.

Connecting entrepreneurs and businesses with mentors and local opportunities strengthens the economic vitality of Washington County. WEDG also partners locally with the Washington Chamber of Commerce and Main Street Washington to identify and assist businesses and entrepreneurs in need of assistance.

The Main Street Washington approach is a combined process that builds the idea of a downtown’s total image. The strategy is incremental, resulting in many small changes that create a strong impact over time. Four volunteer-driven committees contribute to this process; business improvement, design, organization and promotion. Since Washington became a Main Street community in 2008, they have developed the economy of the community by revitalizing our downtown district.

Main Street Washington volunteers are committed to revitalizing the downtown business district, restoring the appearance of historic buildings, helping businesses prosper, marketing our Main Street to regional customers and making the square a community center.

Focusing on the betterment of both the business sector and the community at-large, the Washington Chamber of Commerce is a private, not-for-profit voluntary organization that brings together hundreds of local businesses through a variety of programs, networking events and a host of additional services designed to educate and supply a pool of resources to the community.

The Chamber supports the economic initiatives of the community by acting as the community information hub, providing business referrals, maintaining a community calendar, promoting local shopping and encourages the city of Washington in all facets on a daily basis.

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