News Archive

Modine announces plant closing in Washington

On Thursday, April 16, 2015, Modine Manufacturing corporate officials from Racine, Wisconsin announced that their Washington plant would close within the next two years, affecting about 245 employees. Read their media release is here. Although no layoffs were announced at this time, the production lines from Washington would primarily be relocated to an existing Modine plant in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, a city of 375,000 on the Gulf coast that borders Texas, as well as to existing Modine plants in Jefferson City and Joplin, Missouri.

The Washington Economic Development Group (WEDG), along with its partner organizations, the Washington Chamber of Commerce, Main Street Washington and the City of Washington extends its sincere sympathies to the employees of Modine Manufacturing in Washington and to their families.  The announcement of the plant’s future closure was shocking and unexpected for our entire community.

Modine has operated the 157,500 s.f. plant in Washington since 1985, and has been a great working partner in the community over that long period.  Modine has been a leader in our region in quality assurance and in initiatives to create a positive business climate.  We are very sorry to see them go.

WEDG and its partner organizations are actively engaging Modine’s management and labor leaders, and vital regional partners such as IowaWORKS, the Iowa Economic Development Authority, Alliant Energy, Kirkwood Community College, and others.  WEDG will arrange meetings in the near future with Modine and other partners to discuss Modine’s evolving plans and timelines, and our coordinated response.

We will also collaboratively develop plans to assist impacted employees, explore entrepreneurial ideas, find a new occupant for the facility, as well as continuing our work in supporting Washington County’s many successful established and start-up businesses.

The Washington Evening Journal ran a story on Friday, April 17 that gives an account of the business factors related to the closing. Read it here.


Annual Dinner & Pledge Drive

Kirkwood's Kierstan Peck & Tera PickensWEDG hosted our Annual Dinner on March 23rd, along with our sister organizations, the Washington Chamber of Commerce and Main Street Washington. This was a great event at the Riverside Casino with 280 community and business leaders. We tried a new, fun format.

The WEDG Board of Directors awarded the new Kirkwood Washington Regional Education Center with the 2014 Harvey Holden Special Service Award. Tera Pickens and Kierstan Peck accepted the award for Kirkwood. 

The new Kirkwood Regional center is a game changer for students, employers, and the public in Washington County.

2014-2016 Pledge Drive

WEDG is proud to have leading businesses and local governments as investors, helping us to carry out our mission: To Create and Promote an Environment for Economic Development.

WEDG are celebrating our very successful 2014-2016 pledge drive, which raised almost $300,000 over three years.

If you would like add your name or business to our list of investors, click here for a pledge card. Thanks.

Our Platinum level investors provide 84% of WEDG's total funding. And 60% of our funding comes from our largest four investors. WEDG is very appreciative of their support. 

City of Washington • Washington County

Riverside Casino & Golf Resort • Washington State Bank

In addition to our regular investors that help us to run the organization, WEDG is very grateful for the occasional grant from the Washington County Riverboat Foundation to help us pursue special projects.

PLATINUM ($1,000+ annually)

Alliant Energy
Community 1st Credit Union
Engineered Building Design, L.C.
Federation Bank
Freedom Security Bank and West Chester Savings Bank
Hills Bank and Trust
Hy-Vee Food Store
City of Kalona
MD Orthopaedics
Modine Manufacturing
City of Riverside
Riverside Casino and Golf Resort
City of Washington
Washington County Board of Supervisors
Washington County Hospital & Clinics
Washington State Bank
City of Wellman

GOLD ($500+ annually)

Bazooka Farmstar
City of Brighton
Civco Medical Solutions
Cobb Oil
Carl Dallmeyer
DeLong Construction, Inc.
Eastern Iowa Light & Power/New Ventures
Greiner Buildings
Koller & Company, LLP & Blue Ribbon Bookkeeping
Keith & Sam Lazar
Marshall Furniture
McDonald’s/Creative Management, Inc.
Mose Levy Company, Inc.
Northwestern Mutual Financial Network 

SILVER ($250+ annually)

Carl A. Nelson & Company
Community Medical Supply
Farm & Home Security Mutual Insurance Association
Golden Crest Realty
Harris and Harris Dental
Horak Insurance, Inc.
Iowa Renewable Energy, LLC
JET Physical Therapy
Kalona Organics
Kirkwood Community College
Latta, Harris, Hanon, & Penningroth, L.L.P.
Lloyd, McConnell, Davis & Lujan LLP
Steven Olson & Dr. Heather Heddens, DDS
Reliant Long Term Care Pharmacy
Syngenta Seeds
Town & Country Veterinary Clinic
Veenstra & Kimm
JW Vittetoe Pork
Washington Rotary Club
Wesley Halcyon House 

BRONZE ($100+ annually)

Archer Appliance & TV
Ed & Mary Brown
Ted Drain in memory of Mary Ann Drain
Gallagher Farms
James & Karen Gorham
Myron & Martha Graber
Ken & Rosemary Hanson
Iowa Farm Bureau Federation
Jones & Eden Funeral Home
Dr. Mike & Virginia Jorgensen
Kalona Cooperative Telephone
Krotz-Dieleman Dental Office
Joe & Marde McConnell
Virginia McCurdy Image Promotions & Tubador Enterprises
Don & Becky Patterson
Ed & Ericka Raber
Re/Max Affiliates
Ross Auto & Muffler
Ruhl & Ruhl Realtors/Connie Larson
Robert & Ella May Ruppert
Nicole & Scott Slaubaugh
Statler Construction
TrueNorth Companies
Vetter’s Culligan Water
Dan Voss, Edward Jones Investments 

FRIEND OF WEDG ($35+ annually)

Mayor Sandra Johnson


Reaching out to Realtors

WEDG recently hosted a luncheon for the Iowa City Area Association of Realtors (ICAAR). Almost 100 realtors and business people from Johnson and Washington County met on March 2nd at the Riverside Casino for an informal networking event. 

In addition to networking, the superintendents at Highland, Mid-Prairie, and Washington School Districts gave an overview of their District for the realtors. So did the City Administrators from Kalona, Riverside, Washington, and Wellman.

Check out a PDF of all the Presentations from the Luncheon.

The English Valley Realtors Association in Washington recently disbanded and joined the larger ICAAR, where several local realtors already belonged. Check for real estate listings on the ICAAR MLS search page.

Here is some more information about Washington County that is helpful to realtors and home buyers.


Here is an overview of last year's home sales in the middle-class, $150,000 to $200,000 price range. 



ConnectIowa has Broadband maps of every County. Check out Washington County and the large areas with fiber to the home! (also Johnson County)


ISU puts together detailed retail analysis for every city & county. Check out the 2014 profile data for Washington County,  KalonaRiversideWashingtonWellman. This is great information for understanding how our retail economy is working, now and historically.


Washington County was recently rated by as one of the best counties in Iowa, and the nation, for securing a mortgageClick here to check out the interactive map and info.


The City of Washington was recently rated as the 4th best city in Iowa to retire to by Based on tax rates, doctors offices, number of rec centers, retirement centers, and % of seniors. Click here to check out the interactive map.


Annual Dinner & Realtors Luncheon


Join WEDG, the Washington Chamber, and Main Street Washington in celebrating the growth, achievements and dreams of a "Greater Washington" at our joint Annual Dinner on Monday, March 23rd at the Riverside Casino & Golf ResortIts a fun evening with 280 friendsReally. 

It will be an evening of wonderful company and networking, a fabulous two-meat buffet, cash bar, great raffle prizes, and special recognitions and awards.  Just $30 per person.

Plus, a special $60+tax hotel room rate on March 23rd at the Riverside Casino - courtesy code "Chamber Dinner," call 319-648-1234. 

Thanks to our Sponsors and Raffle donors that help to make it a great event!

SPONSORS: Community First Credit Union, Federation Bank, Hills Bank, US Bank, Washington State Bank, and West Chester Savings Bank/Freedom Security Bank

RAFFLE PRIZE SPONSORS: Batterson Photography, Cafe Dodici, Don's Jewerly, Hills Bank, Kirkwood Community CollegeRiverside Casino & Golf Resort, Virginia McCurdy Image Promotions


The Iowa City Area Association of Realtors now includes Washington County. WEDG is hosting a casual mixer luncheon for the real estate community at the Riverside Casino's Event Center on Monday, March 2nd.

Hear about Washington County from the City Administrators of Kalona, Riverside, Washington and Wellman. Plus learn about our school districts from the Superintendents of Highland, Mid-Prairie, and Washington School Districts.

Realtor members of ICAAR attend for free. Others are $20.

Thanks to our Sponsors for making this event possible!

City of KalonaCity of RiversideCity of WashingtonCity of Wellman
Highland Community School DistrictMid-Prairie Community School DistrictWashington Community School District
Elliott Realty GroupGolden Crest RealtyRuhl & Ruhl Washington
Integrity Abstract CompanyWashington Title & Guaranty Co.
Riverside Casino & Golf Resort
Community 1st Credit Union, Federation BankHills Bank and Trust, U.S. Bank Washington
Washington State Bank, West Chester Savings Bank/Freedom Security Bank


Speaking of real estate, the website recently published an interactive mortgage map to highlight the best counties in each state for securing a mortgage.  In the state of Iowa, three of the top counties are located in Iowa’s Creative Corridor:  Cedar County  (ranked 4), Washington County (ranked 6) and Jones County (ranked 10).

Washington County, ranked 6th in Iowa, is ranked 115th in the nation, which puts it in the top 4% of all counties. Washington County has a mortgage loan funding rate of 74.12%, which is at the top of Iowa and the nation.

“Washington County is a best bet for mortgage seekers because of strong community lenders, good realtors, reasonable taxes, and a stable and affordable housing market. That combination is what sets us apart from many parts of the state and the nation,” said Ed Raber of the Washington Economic Development Group.

To determine the best places to get a mortgage, SmartAsset analyzed four factors: overall borrowing costs, ease of securing a mortgage, property taxes and annual mortgage payments. All payments, costs and taxes were calculated on the first five years of a $250,000 mortgage with a 20% down payment and closing costs.


Washington County unemployment 3.4% in December

I haven't reported on unemployment statistics for several months. In December, Washington County's unemployment rate was 3.4%, the second lowest rate in the eastern half of Iowa (Johnson County is lowest).

It is safe to say that Washington County is at or approaching full employment. Anecdotal information from several employers indicate that there is some pressure on increasing wages to attract the best workforce talent.

Remarkably, Washington County's labor force has climbed to 12,600 for most of 2014, the highest level ever. Washington County is growing.

In fact, the number of employed persons in Washington County is 12,200, which is higher than the total labor force back in 2013.

Of the 400 unemployed persons in the labor force, 90 (22.5%) are receiving unemployment benefits.

The help wanted ads in the Washington Evening Journal are extensive covering manufacturing, health care, trucking and other sectors. The Iowa Workforce Development IowaJobs website lists 96 different positions that employers are seeking. Other web sites like lists 60 professional, management, and production jobs around the County that are paid ads from advertisers like Civco, DeLong Construction, Iowa Bridge & Culvert, McDonalds, and many others.

The State and County data in this article is from the Labor Market and Economic Research Bureau of the Iowa Workforce Development.

Because of the low unemployment rate and growing labor force, WEDG and other partners are focusing on workforce development initiatives, as well as looking at new housing opportunities in Washington County communities.

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