Since organizational inception in 1954, Perry’s economic development group has attracted businesses and advanced the economic well-being of Perry, Iowa in significant and measurable ways. Its purposes extend beyond attracting new business and jobs to a dual focus of creating a climate for existing industry to grow.
Responding to the loss of a meat processor in the mid-fifties, this group set about to see that the town remained viable economically. In fact, the group Perry Industries, Inc. made up of community volunteers financed a short promotional documentary following a successful fundraising capital campaign (over $1,000,000) to start and build Iowa Pork Co. in April of 1962. The film was entitled “The Town That Wouldn’t Die”. Iowa Pork was quickly sold to IBP, later to Oscar Mayer in 1965, and then back to IBP in 1988. At that time IBP, Inc. threatened to close the Perry plant but PI/PED representatives worked “around the clock” to convince company officials to stay in Perry. This effort was successful and IBP expanded the company production facilities. In 2001, IBP merged with Tyson Foods, Inc. which then became the largest processor and marketer of chicken, beef and pork in the world. Perry Industries, Inc. worked with state and local officials to assist in the placement of displaced Oscar Mayer workers. Today, Tyson is still Perry’s largest employer with approximately 1200 team members.
In 1974, Perry was seriously in need of medical doctors to meet the need of a more demanding health environment. While Perry had two MDs operating from their own offices, both were nearing retirement and a overloaded client base. Perry Industries, Inc accepted the challenge to build a clinic and recruit doctors. The capital for this was raised through debentures sold in the community and a non-profit arm was established to provide for a charitable donation. Perry Economic Development, Inc., a 501 (c) 3 was formed in June of 1984. The Perry Medical Clinic was built adjacent to Dallas County Hospital and later sold to the hospital by the development groups. In the process, three new doctors were recruited. That number has continued to expand to today.
On May 1, 1984, Perry Industries, Inc. held a news conference at City Hall to announce the purchase and future development of a 76.8 acre farm south of 141 on the southeast side of Perry. PI/PED worked alongside the Iowa Department of Economic Development, Greater Dallas County Alliance and the City of Perry to develop Perry Industrial Park. The Park is now home to three major employers with more lots available for additional companies to be recruited for the future. Along the way, PI/PED financed in partnership with Iowa Area Development, two spec buildings now occupied by Percival Scientific and ITC Midwest. In 2011, the recruitment by PI/PED (with assistance from GDCA) of Hy-Line International to the park resulted in a 2012 dedication of one of the most up-to-date egg production facilities in the world. Enhancements to the Park including paved roads, street lights, signage, land and water-runoff construction are ongoing. The City of Perry has been an instrumental and valuable partner in all of these improvements.
In 1993 and 1994, Perry Industries/Perry Economic Development became a major partner in assisting with the financing and development of the projects being planned by Howard and Roberta Ahmanson’s Pattee Enterprises, Inc and Fullhart /Carnegie Museum Trust. PI/PED negotiated and purchased land and buildings which eventually allowed the Ahmansons to construct and remodel Hotel Pattee, Security Bank Building (now City Hall, Chamber and School Administration), First National Bank, Soumas Court, and the Carnegie Library Museum. Over $250,000 was expended by PED to acquire property and it was donated to make it possible for this community economic expansion. Later in partnership with the City of Perry, this land would become available for the DMACC Career Academy and needed parking.
In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, PI/PED purchased the former drive-in property and began development of Perry Business Park. Working again in partnership with the City of Perry, the focus of this park was on non-industrial companies. The groups worked with Farm Credit Services of America to locate and build a multi-state office complex as the first employer on this site. Additional lots are part of the ongoing marketing efforts for the groups.
In 2003, Perry Community Schools established a DMACC Career Academy with the eventual hope that a separate facility could be found to house it. In partnership with school administration, PI/PED helped lead an effort in recruiting, fundraising and construction of a DMACC Career Academy on the lots owned and contributed by the City of Perry and having been purchased originally for the Fullhart-Carnegie Museum by Perry Economic Development. Major partners like the City of Perry, Perry Community Schools, Perry Chamber of Commerce, Des Moines Area Community College, Greater Dallas County Development, and the State of Iowa’s IJOBS Grant program worked together with the development groups and the Perry community to raise nearly $4,000,000 dollars for the Academy which opened to students in August of 2011. PED contributed $250,000not including the volunteer hours toward its establishment. Current estimates are for the DMACC Academy to serve the community and advanced education here for many years to come. It is a Silver Certified LEED environmental facility.
Proudly, in 2015, PI/PED working under the guidance of GDCD, and with help from the City of Perry and local land owners, developed one of the first four Certified Economic Development Sites in the State of Iowa, greatly enhancing the industrial marketability for Perry.
The ongoing work of PI/PED involves many areas and facets of economic development. Over the years, established contact teams from the groups have managed properties and taken prospects on tours of the community several times each year. It is not unusual for leads to be passed on to the groups and many volunteer hours dedicated to follow-up. On at least two occasions, the groups have offered $2500 or $5000 rewards for “tips” leading to a prospect coming to Perry. The groups meet two times each month over the lunch hour and beyond. State and Regional Economic Development Groups have consistently pointed to Perry as a place where collaboration has resulted in success.
Finally, it goes without saying that meaningful work is usually done in collaboration. Important partners like the City of Perry, Perry Community Schools, Perry Chamber of Commerce, Greater Dallas County Development, Des Moines Area Community College, Dallas County, Wiese Foundation, Alliant Energy, Iowa Rural Cooperative, and MidAmerican Energy have been critical in nearly all the accomplishments listed.
Recently, the groups are looking at site development plans for the Industrial Park, connections to the High Trestle trail in Woodward and revitalizing a needed housing market segment. Always, the groups are wanting to support the current businesses that are vital to our community sustainability.
In retrospect, the love of a community and the spirit of collaboration have been the catalyst for these groups of volunteers. Looking forward, it is hoped these past efforts will be a “springboard” to even greater development.
City of Perry, Iowa- 'Make Yourself At Home!' | 1102 Willis Avenue P.O. Box 545, Perry, IA 50220 | (515) 465-2481