After almost a year of speculation and secretive negotiations, officials in Iowa have revealed that drug distribution giant McKesson ($MCK) is behind the 340,000-square-foot warehouse being built in the state. McKesson will use the site to distribute products across 7 states when it starts operating in May 2016.
Construction of the building in Clear Lake, IA, began last year, but fewer than 10 people in the region knew it was destined for use by McKesson, the Mason City Globe Gazette reports. The select group of city, county and business representatives who were in the know were made to sign gag orders. And city council members had to sign off on investments to support the project despite not knowing which company would occupy the site.
McKesson was adamant such secrecy was essential. "To me, that [secrecy] was kind of the linchpin in the project, that we would be willing to let them operate that way," City Administrator Scott Flory told The Des Moines Register. "Without that we would not have had the project." Officials eventually revealed the identity of the mystery company the day before it was due to become public knowledge at a state incentive hearing.
Even at that late stage, Flory was still wary the $65 million project could fall apart. "The sign is not on the building and they're not getting mail yet, they don't have employees," he said. "This is not a fait accompli." A day later, Iowa's economic development board cleared a potential stumbling block by approving $4.4 million in incentives for McKesson, including $4.2 million in tax credits and a $170,000 forgivable loan.
The support has helped Iowa snag a project that will create 164 jobs--most of which will be filled locally--and have an estimated economic impact of $310 million over the next decade. Other regions reportedly offered bigger incentive packages, but McKesson decided Clear Lake was the right location from which to distribute drugs to Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas.