Life

New shell building designed to prompt economic development

This aerial photograph shows the 60 acres available for development in Fairfield Economic Development Association’s industrial park on 227th Street south of Fairfield, and where the new 30,000-square-foot shell building sits within that acreage. (Image courtesy of Joshua Laraby)
This aerial photograph shows the 60 acres available for development in Fairfield Economic Development Association’s industrial park on 227th Street south of Fairfield, and where the new 30,000-square-foot shell building sits within that acreage. (Image courtesy of Joshua Laraby)
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FAIRFIELD – One of the great stories in economic development from 2019 was the completion of a 30,000-square-foot shell building south of Fairfield on 227th Street.

The building measures 100 feet by 300 feet with walls 27 feet high and is located next to the Iowa Department of Transportation’s maintenance shop. The structure is a metal frame with two large overhead doors. The flooring was left unfinished to accommodate a variety of businesses that may want to purchase the building.

The structure is the result of a collaborative effort between many groups such as Fairfield Economic Development Association, the City of Fairfield, Jefferson County, Access Energy Cooperative, United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development, Northeast Power and others.

The building sits on a three-acre parcel of land within the economic development association’s 61-acre business and industrial park, land it purchased in 2015 from Gene Copeland.

The land is conveniently located near the intersection of Highway 1 and Highway 34.

The building is now sitting empty, waiting for a business to move in and put the finishing touches on its floor or whatever other accessories it wants to add. Economic development Executive Director Joshua Laraby said the building receives “regular, active interest” from prospective buyers even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Laraby said there are a number of reasons for the shell building’s construction. The main reason is that the Fairfield Economic Development Association has learned over the past few years that companies wishing to expand or relocate to Fairfield have been unsatisfied with the city’s stock of buildings. The buildings are either not tall enough or they lack “clear span,” a term referring to how wide open a structure is inside. “Some operations need a high ceiling, and they didn’t like the buildings we had,” Laraby said.

Fairfield Economic Development Association has an industrial park on the west side of town, on South 23rd Street. That park has been doing very well, so well in fact that it’s nearly full, which is what prompted the economic development association to purchase land on 227th Street.

The west industrial park also showed the town the value of a shell building. That shell building, erected in the 1980s, incubated three businesses that are still running today: TrafFix Devices, H & H Mold and Fairfield Industries. Eventually, TrafFix acquired the whole building, and the other two businesses constructed their own facilities in the west industrial park. Those three businesses combined employ nearly 200 people.

Laraby said he hopes this new shell building south of town will employ between 20-25 people. He expects the shell building to be inviting for a wide array of businesses such as advanced manufacturing, technology firms, distribution centers or any number of others.

The new shell building already has access to the town’s water and sewer systems, along with three-phase electricity through Access Energy, a big selling-point to manufacturing firms and others with high power needs. The building sits just off 227th Street, a street paved in 2018 that was a joint effort between the city, county and Iowa Department of Transportation.

The shell building was manufactured by Ceco Building Systems of Mt. Pleasant, and Schaus-Vorhies Contracting of Fairfield was awarded the role of general contractor.

USDA Rural Development awarded $300,000 to Access Energy’s revolving loan fund. To get that money, Access Energy matched that grant by putting $60,000 in the revolving loan fund. FEDA borrowed those funds and additional money from the city and county to construct the building. Laraby added that FEDA also contributed funds to the project.

For more information on the shell building or other opportunities within the industrial park, contact Laraby at 641-472-3436 or via email at Joshua.Laraby@growfairfield.com. There is also more information on the shell building on Fairfield Economic Development Association’s website at GrowFairfield.com.