Winnebago Industries Inc. announced today (April 1) that it has selected Charles City, Iowa, as the location for its new motorhome assembly plant.
The Forest City, Iowa-based Winnebago will invest $12.5 million to build a 204,000-square-foot factory beginning this spring. The company wants the new plant to go into production early next year and it will expand Winnebago’s output capacity by 30%.
Charles City is about 65 miles east of Forest City and it is the location of a Winnebago hardwood cabinet doors and drawers plant and a diesel pusher assembly plant, which opened during 2000.
“Charles City has been an excellent partner for Winnebago Industries,” said Bruce Hertzke, chairman, president and CEO. “We couldn’t be more pleased with the success of our two current Charles City facilities, our excellent workforce and the great relationship we have with the Charles City community.”
Winnebago executives decided the company could not expand in Forest City because the town’s small population means there are few additional workers available. Meanwhile, Charles City is far enough away from Forest City to tap into a different labor market.
In recent weeks, Winnebago narrowed its search for its new plant site to 100 communities in Iowa and Minnesota. Local government officials in several towns told local news reporters they would enthusiastically support Winnebago becoming an employer in their communities.
Winnebago also wanted the new plant to be within 200 miles of Forest City to keep delivery times from its component parts operations in Forest City to a reasonable length.
Hertzke thanked Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack and the Iowa Department of Economic Development “for their confidence and support to keep Winnebago Industries’ expansion in Iowa.”
The selection of Charles City “is contingent upon final approval of grants and other incentives from the community, county and state,” according to Winnebago, which is seeking around $2 million worth of worker-training and tax abatement incentives.