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Iowa City industrial park empty despite use plans

Published: Tuesday, March 19, 2013 11:11 a.m. CST

IOWA CITY (AP) — An Iowa City industrial park that the city has spent millions to develop sits empty, nearly two years after a Maryland-based wind turbine company announced it would build an $85 million plant and employ nearly 200 people there.

Nadicom, or North American Ductile Iron Co., of Fulton, Md., announced in April 2011 at the Iowa Wind Energy Association’s annual conference that it would build an iron foundry on the site that would support 175 jobs. But the foundry never materialized and today the 173 acres on the southeast edge of Iowa City remain mostly undeveloped farmland.

Iowa City has put up about $12 million of the $14 million spent to help create streets and extend water and sewer lines to the area, the Iowa City Press-Citizen reported.

Nadicom CEO Prasad Karunakaran said the project has been put on hold following a turbulent year for the wind energy industry.

“Our initial plans were very much focused on the wind energy sector,” Karunakaran told the newspaper. “And if you follow the wind energy sector, it took a beating in 2012, which basically caused us problems to raise enough capital to get it off the ground.”

Karunakaran said he still hopes to one day bring a factory with a revamped business model to Iowa City.

The soonest Nadicom could do that would be 2015, he said.

Meanwhile, city leaders and the Iowa City Area Development Group, which has partnered with the city to market the industrial park, are trying to lure other businesses to the site.