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Eagle expansion

Eckhart plans to expand the existing Eagle Engineering facility, on South First Street and Fisher Court in Eldridge, by adding 29,000 square feet to the eastern end of the building.

ELDRIDGE — The city council on Monday approved tax incentives for an acquisition and expansion that will nearly double the number of jobs at a 30-year-old engineering firm. 

Michigan-based Eckhart Inc., which designs and produces manufacturing equipment, purchased Eagle Engineering in Eldridge this past summer. The company plans to expand operations by nearly double, adding 29,000 square feet to the facility, plus 50 new jobs.

At its meeting Monday night, the council voted 4-0 to approve a tax increment financing, or TIF, agreement for the project. The TIF would result in a new property tax payment of more than $96,000 per year on the increment, totaling more than $372,600 over the course of five years. 

Tami Petsche, vice president of economic development with the Quad-Cities Chamber of Commerce, said that Eckhart also has agreed to partner with Eastern Iowa Community Colleges for job training. 

"This is a really good example of how a partnership with a community like Eldridge and the Quad-Cities Chamber can work together," she said. "This will not only help Eldridge, but the entire Quad-Cities." 

The council's approval of incentives follow the Iowa Economic Development Authority Board earlier this month approving tax incentives for the project. The nearly $7 million investment is expected to add 50 jobs to the plant's existing 60 positions. 

The new jobs consist of five management positions, 10 engineering jobs, plus tool makers, machinists, welders, electrical positions and others, all expected to be paid between $17 and $30 per hour, according to the TIF agreement.

Jacque Matsen with the IEDA previously said the acquisition is a "big deal for Eldridge," plus will allow Eagle Engineering to greater contribute to Scott County's "role in the state economy as one of the largest exporting counties." 

Travis Turner, Eagle Engineering's new general manager, said in a previous interview that Eckhart has been expanding, acquiring around five companies in the past few years. He said Eckhart is hoping to expand its presence in the manufacturing industry, which made Eagle Engineering an attractive acquisition, with clients such as Deere & Co., Caterpillar and others. 

Eagle Engineering was founded as a two-man engineering design shop in 1989, according to co-founder Bryan Purdy. Today, the company designs and builds tooling, special machines and equipment for the construction, mining, manufacturing, agriculture, military, energy and other sectors.

In other news, the city council agreed to move forward with forming a new strategic plan, which would include obtaining resident input. The last five-year strategic plan was created in 2010, according to the council.

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