CF Industries spends $1.7B in Iowa expansion

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Fertilizer maker CF Industries Inc. plans to invest $1.7 billion to expand its facility on the south edge of Sioux City, Iowa.

Gov. Terry Branstad on Thursday said that the project is the largest capital investment ever for the state of Iowa.

"Our state is clearly well-positioned to take advantage of the growing domestic fertilizer industry," he said in a statement. "Not only does that mean significant investment that will continue to grow our economy but also the creation of high-paying jobs for Iowans."

The project will add new ammonia and granular urea production plants to the existing CF Industries Port Neal facility, which is located at Sergeant Bluff on the south edge of Sioux City.

The project will create 100 new jobs at the plant with a starting salary of about $50,000 a year. About 700 additional jobs will be created to support the plant and up to 2,000 construction jobs while it is being built. The plant should be operational by 2016, said CF Industries CEO Steve Wilson.

State economic development officials awarded the project $1.5 million in direct assistance and tax credits totaling $22 million. The tax credit includes $13 million in sales tax refunds paid during construction and $9 million in investment tax credits. The state economic development board said it will consider future tax credits of up to $12 million in each of the next four fiscal years.

CF Industries is a global leader in fertilizer manufacturing and distribution. In 2010, CF Industries acquired Terra Industries Inc. In addition to its Port Neal facility, the company operates Iowa terminals at Spencer and Garner.

The investment in Iowa eclipses the previous largest capital project, another fertilizer plant planned for southeast Iowa to be built by Orascom Construction Industries of Cairo, Egypt.

That facility announced in September brings an investment of $1.4 billion to Iowa and prompted the state to promise an incentive package of $110 million in tax breaks, loans, job training funds, and transportation improvements. That is in addition to the Lee County investment of $130 million over 20 years.

The project creates 165 jobs at a salary of about $48,000 a year.