In November of 1965, the Wilton Industrial Development Corporation was formed from a Chamber of Commerce committee.
$500 loans from 33 business people provided the $16,500 operating capital to get started and the WDC purchased 11.2 acres along the Rock Island double-track mainline. Five local businesses expanded into the tract. Their moves enabled repayment of the $16,500 loan, with interest by 1967. The WDC retained part of the original site and in 1969 obtained more land.
The WDC struck gold in 1970 when MISCO aka Charter Data Services, Inc., and today known at CDS Global decided to locate at the junction of Highways 6 and 38 with a 65,000 square foot facility. They started out as a subscription fulfillment operation with 90 to 95 employees and today CDS Global is the leading provider of end-to-end business process outsourcing they employ 310 and over 1900 Worldwide.
In 1972, Johns-Manville Corporation (now known as JM Eagle Company, Inc.) purchased a 42-acre site bounded by the rail and two highways. They produce plastic pipe for water, sewer and irrigation purposes. Today they employ 34 people.
Also, in 1972 Wilton scored again when Iowa Steel Corporation aka North Star Steel and today known as Gerdau announced plans to build a $15 million steel mill on a 160-acre site just west of the JM location. This mill, which manufactured steel bar (rebar) products from scrap, poured its first steel in 1976. In 1977, North Star completed a 7 million dollar expansion, adding 164,000 square feet of manufacturing area. Wilton became the home of Iowa’s only steel mill and one of the state’s largest consumers of electric power. Today Gerdau employs 300 full-time employees and produces Merchant and Special Bar Quality for the manufacturing, agriculture and construction industries.
In 1978, Predco, Inc.,(Precision Drawn Steel Company) aka Republic built a 55,000 square foot facility with a separate office building manufacturing cold finished steel bars and hired 40 full-time employees. Then in 1988, Wilton Precision Steel and some investors bought this facility out of bankruptcy and today it has grown to 150,000 sq. ft. manufacturing space, adding state of the art processing technologies to accommodate a broad range of problem-solving products and employs 100 people.
In 1979, ground breaking for HWH Corporation was held on a four-acre site west of Wilton for a 14,560 manufacturing space as well as a 1,820 sq. ft office space to employ 20 people. The firm manufactured hydraulic leveling systems for recreational vehicles. Today, it has grown to over eight acres of manufacturing under one roof. HWH manufactures hydraulic and air leveling systems, hydraulic slide-out systems and slide-out accessories.
Wilton was fortunate to have Eastern Iowa Light & Power Cooperative be here from the beginning as they were our largest employer for many years. Just this year they put the finishing touches on a new facility in our industrial park and employ 105 people. They have been close partners with WDC as well as the City of Wilton, Wilton Municipal Light & Power, Wilton Chamber of Commerce, WTC Communications and Wilton Community School District, Eastern Iowa Community College, Muscatine County Supervisors, Cedar County Supervisors and MidAmerican Energy as we continue to work with business and industry prospects.
This year we're proud to welcome Hy-Line North America to our group of industries in our industrial park. Hy-Line North America is a leader in providing egg producers with the highest quality day-old chicks in the US and British Columbia. The Wilton facility will be 95,000 sq. ft. and will receive fertile hatching eggs and ship day-old chicks to egg producers in Iowa and surrounding states. They will hire up to 50 full-time employees.
Along with industrial development of existing and recruiting new businesses, WDC’s strategy includes:
- Downtown Revitalization---Our organization became a reality because of our downtown business folks and keeping this district a vibrant hub of activity for business and being true to our founders, we have devised a strategy of development which led to working on a grant to renovate our downtown building facades and pursue a listing on the National Register of Historic Places to prospect for new businesses and create an atmosphere that folks will spend their time and money….our investment to future growth.
- Skilled Workforce Initiative---Realizing that our industries will lose many skilled employees through retirement, WDC is working with the Wilton Community School District and Eastern Iowa Community Colleges, to develop and implement a plan of action to offer our students an opportunity to seek careers in mechanical, electrical, technical and manufacturing skill sets in order to build and strengthen our local workforce and help our economy to grow and prosper.
- Wilton All-School Reunion June 17, 18, 19---In the fall of 2016 our elementary students will be moving into their new schoolhouse and the old school will be torn down. WDC will be welcoming back the folks who were born and raised in Wilton for an All-School Reunion at the old school on June 17, 18 and 19, in order to celebrate our heritage--show and tell our story, and ask them for their expertise, help and support as we learn and grow.
Let's take a quick look back at those community leaders who had the vision and had the determination to answered the call to action so that we could enjoy the fruits of their labor today.