MASON CITY — The City Council in Mason City last night approved the scheduling of a public hearing regarding a development agreement between the city and Golden Grain Energy on a proposed $23 million expansion project to their facility on the city’s south side.

North Iowa Corridor Economic Development Corporation CEO Chad Schreck says the expansion will add a number of different components and jobs for the ethanol-producing plant.  “A lot of equipment, a lot of new capacity for their system. That will allow them to obviously increase their output significantly. I believe it’s five to 10 new jobs, brings them up to 55 jobs in the plant, average wages from $20 to $50 an hour for these newly-created positions. Plant-wide I think they’re around $35 an hour average jobs plus benefits, so very high value, high quality jobs.”

Golden Grain and the city successfully executed a development agreement in 2004 in which they provided a minimum of 42 full-time equivalent jobs in exchange for just over $5 million in tax rebates. That helped to leverage Golden Grain into having the highest assessed property value in the city, assessed at just under $19 million this past January. Schreck says they worked with Golden Grain and the city in figuring out a potential agreement for the expansion.  “We met with them, going to the process, helping facilitate this. In order for them to move this forward, this was a factor, the city’s assistance in helping move this forward was a factor in them being able to make it work, the feasibility of everything, with that large sum coming back on the tax rolls that they’ll be paying now and not getting rebated, among other things.”

Councilman John Lee says a tax abatement program such as this helps the city in the future.  “The city is about 10 years, 20 years in thinking for the future, it’s not necessarily collecting the taxes today but making sure they’re coming in for down the road. I really don’t have much issues in tax abatements, and knowing this company has done so great for this community, what a great partner for us. So thank you Chad and your team, and thank you to Golden Grain for their belief in this community and expansion, and what a great partner to have in Mason City.”

If approved, the agreement would provide for an annual rebate of 100% of the incremental taxes paid for ten years, up to a maximum of $2 million. That rebate would be only for the estimated $6.2 million of increased value. In return, Golden Grain must add ten more full-time jobs by the end of 2021. The council set their December 3rd meeting for the public hearing on the agreement.