Sign Up for Webster County’s Spring Break Manufacturing Tours!
10 Feb 2023
These aren’t your grandfather’s factories, and Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance wants the next generation to know it. They have coordinated tours of CJ Bio America, Elanco, and Cargill on March 14, 2023, for Iowa college and tech students on spring break.
Each year, numerous technical and high-paying jobs go unfilled because the modern manufacturing industry sector is misunderstood. Historically, manufacturing was considered dirty, dangerous, and rife with layoffs due to cuts and automation. This may have rung true over two decades ago, but today, manufacturing is a whole new game functioning on technology and job security.
Long gone are the days of dark, dingy factories. Many modern manufacturing sites are high-tech production facilities that are safe, clean, and protect the well-being of their employees. Automation and robots are not stealing jobs; they are simply shifting them. Robots allow manufacturers to add more skilled human workers who can design, innovate, and think critically. When companies open their doors and unfurl the welcome mats for tours, it goes a long way to dispel negative impressions.
The Robust Manufacturing Sector in Webster County, Iowa
The Greater Fort Dodge area in Webster County, Iowa, is a hotspot for skilled talent entering the lucrative manufacturing jobs market. For online job postings, the national average for a comparably sized region is 31 postings per month, while there are 60 per month in Webster County. Likewise, the national average for employees in an area this size is 1,441, while in Webster, there are 2,424.
In 2022, the Gross Regional Product (GRP) for Webster County totaled $1.2 billion. Property income alone was $881.5 million. The manufacturing industry is dedicated to sustainability as well: 88.5 percent of energy used is from a renewable source.
The Story Behind Webster County’s Extensive Labor Pool
The Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance’s Workforce Committee has been very thoughtful in the tools they have developed for our member’s needs. Recruitment, as well as retention, of a diversely qualified workforce is vital to the success of our members.
The Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance sponsors community and industry tours so students can see firsthand the types of jobs available. To better train high school educators about the workforce needs of area businesses, Iowa Central Community College offers externship programs to take teachers out of the classroom and into the field to gain hands-on experience and knowledge that they can take back to their students. These externships provide an opportunity for business leaders to communicate directly to educators the skills they seek in their employees. Home Base Iowa assists veterans entering the civilian workforce, thereby accessing a vast talent pool.
Why Fort Dodge?
Also contributing to the employment numbers is the desirable quality of life here to enjoy in the Greater Fort Dodge region. People can simplify their lives by living where they work. Webster County offers the opportunity for a small-town lifestyle with plenty of room to succeed, grow, and play while allowing easy access to the metro amenities of Des Moines.
But honestly, there’s plenty to fill your weekends right in Webster County. Shelly Bottorff, Director of Fort Dodge Fine Arts Association, reports that, on average, there are more than 100 art and culture events each month for adults, families, and youth. Events like the Downtown Country Jam and the 80s hair band tribute, Shellabration, bring the community together. There are also beautiful parks galore, including Dolliver Memorial Park, with over 594 acres of canyons, bluffs, and flatlands to explore. A system of trails, including the local Soldier Creek Nature Trail, connects hikers to Iowa’s well-developed state trail system.
Wages go farther in Greater Fort Dodge because the cost of living is 28.4 percent lower than the national average. The family-oriented area provides access to high-quality childcare options and free preschool for children aged four. Additionally, Iowa has one of the nation’s highest high school retention and graduation rates.
Spring Break Manufacturing Tours: ‘Don’t surf the couch all Spring Break; find your first job!’
Iowa college and tech students on spring break are invited to tour CJ Bio America, Elanco, and Cargill on March 14th. The welcome mats will unfurl for students from the University of Iowa, Iowa State University, University of Northern Iowa, Iowa Central Community College, Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC), and North Iowa Area Community College (NIACC). Engineering, chemistry, and animal science majors are being sought. The Growth Alliance knows these tours can be the next step to a fulfilling career.
‘Come peek behind our fence!’
Sign up today to tour these innovative Webster County facilities on March 14th! Registration is required.
8:30 a.m. Breakfast - Bunkhouse at Starlite Best Western near the restaurant.
9:00 a.m. Welcome
9:30 a.m. Tour Elanco
11:00 a.m. Tour CJ Bio America
12:00 p.m. Lunch
1:00 p.m. Tour Cargill
2:15 p.m. Return to Starlite
CJ Bio America
CJ Bio America is a distinguished global leader in animal nutrition and health. It produces the highest quality products and solutions for customers using the world’s best eco-friendly biotechnologies.
“CJ Bio America’s continued commitment to sustainable operations has resulted in greater productivity and yields of our feed-grade essential amino acids and a reduced need for input materials, including water and energy,” said Todd R. Anderson, CJ Bio America External Relations Coordinator. “Cost-savings from such efficiencies have allowed us to increase our donations to and volunteerism at non-profit organizations, civic fundraisers, and charity drives benefiting those in need while supporting the wealth and health of our area.”
Elanco is a leader in farm animal and pet health solutions, treating and preventing disease in more than 90 countries. A global animal health leader, they rigorously innovate to improve the health of animals, benefit customers, and support the causes that strengthen communities. Elanco is committed to fostering an inclusive work culture where employees can make a difference by encouraging ownership, growth, and well-being.
Cargill brings food, agricultural, financial, and industrial products to people who need them all around the world. From small family farms to global shipping lanes, Cargill works every day to implement new sustainable practices to reduce their impact on the planet and protect people. In Fort Dodge, Cargill’s corn wet milling facility is capable of producing dextrose, ethanol, feed for cattle, corn gluten meal fed to poultry, corn germ, and a molasses-like substance called corn steep liquor. Cargill is investing more than $50 million in a new, cutting-edge corn syrup refinery that will significantly expand the company’s ability to meet the growing demand for corn syrup in a sustainable manner.
"We love talking about and showing what we do at Cargill in Fort Dodge,” said Sydney Pokory, Cargill Facility Manager. “We have a fantastic team and culture; our people truly value teamwork, striving for excellence, and having fun. The plant is a very interesting environment; the size and scale of the equipment is surprising to people who haven’t experienced continuous manufacturing. The process is highly automated — we monitor thousands of data points from across all equipment in the plant, and most of the process control is done from a central control room.”
“We are always looking for opportunities to improve the process to make it safer, more sustainable and energy efficient, and more reliable — this makes the job fun every day because no two days are the same. We are currently expanding our plant by building a state-of-the-art corn syrup production facility, which will employ the newest technologies and the local green power grid to make corn syrup that has about half of the carbon intensity of a traditional process. We also love giving back to our community — Cargill has given over $750,000 to the Fort Dodge United Way, and have contributed to many other local organizations and projects. We volunteer at food pantries, Meals on Wheels, PICA, and a variety of other organizations."