DUBUQUE, IOWA — The City of Dubuque is currently working with Simmons Pet Food, Inc. to finalize an $80 million operational expansion in the area. Simmons announced its intention to expand its wet pet food production in the area on Dec. 18, which will contribute toward the company's plans to add approximately 408 million units to its total capacity in 2021.

“We are pleased to establish operations in the community of Dubuque and bring new jobs to the area with industry-leading pay and benefits," said Scott Salmon, president of Simmons Pet Food. "The region has a quality workforce and is an ideal location to service our customers across the US and Canada.”

According to Simmons and a memo from Michael C Van Milligen, Dubuque city manager, Simmons will purchase an existing 250,000-square-foot plant formerly owned by Flexsteel Industries, Inc. The memo stated this project will result in the largest wet pet food canning line across all Simmons’ current operations.

Simmons will invest $80 million over the next three years to purchase the existing facility, located in the Dubuque Industrial Center, and construct three expansions. These include a 5,000-square-foot receiving area, a 10,000-square-foot freezer, an 8,000-square-foot utility building, and a 75,000-square-foot warehouse. 

“This location will meet the needs for the two phases of expansion we have planned for our canned pet food operation in 2021 and beyond," said David Jackson, chief operating officer of Simmons Foods. "Equipment installation will begin very quickly, with the first phase of production scheduled to begin by July 1, 2021.”

The completed facility is expected to create 271 total jobs in the area, of which 138 full-time positions are expected to be filled by Dec. 31, 2021. The creation of another 133 jobs is planned by Dec. 31, 2023, once the facility is running 24/7. Jobs include hourly and salaried positions in management, production, safety, quality, packaging, human resources, continuous improvement and other areas. Estimated starting wages would be $20 per hour.

This expansion comes at the heels of a $100 million growth investment that included Simmons' new Emporia Flex Plant and a high-speed canning line at its Emporia Main Plant, which became fully operational in October.

As part of the development agreement, Simmons will apply for the Iowa Economic Development Authority’s job incentives, including investment tax credits, sales tax refund and job training funds provided by Northeast Iowa Community College, according to the memo.

The City of Dubuque expects the facility to stimulate not only job creation but also revenue through utility use, up to $1 million annually once the facility is running full speed.

“The Greater Dubuque area is pleased to welcome Simmons Pet Foods to our vibrant corporate community," said Rick Dickinson, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Dubuque Development Corporation. ."Their company mission and values complement the many employers who make our area home. Simmons’ investment in Dubuque is a testament to our skilled workforce and environment of public/private collaboration. We look forward to our partnership with this industry leader in pet food manufacturing.”

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