AP NEWS

Black Hills Energy to build training facility in Iowa

July 8, 2018 GMT

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa — Black Hills Energy and Iowa Western Community College have entered into an agreement on a new natural gas training and operations facility for the company.

Under the agreement, Iowa Western will sell up to 13 acres near the college that it owns for the facility.

When Iowa Western was deeded the land in 2007, its foundation board was dedicated to developing the site to best fit the needs of Council Bluffs and the college campus with a project that would benefit the entire region.

The new $11 million Black Hills Energy facility will contain space for the area’s natural gas operations, office personnel and meter shop employees. The facility will also include a regional training facility for natural gas technicians.

The training center will allow Black Hills Energy to move beyond compliance based training and offer more opportunities for hands-on, skill-based training. More than 300 field and office employees from Iowa, Arkansas, Kansas and Nebraska will attend various training sessions throughout the year.

Black Hills Energy is based in Rapid City, S.D., and supplies natural gas to numerous Northeast Nebraska communities, including Norfolk.

The training facility and grounds will be strategically located next to the college, providing for a potential partnership between Black Hills energy and Iowa Western Community College, focused on advanced education and training.

“We are excited that a company of the stature and significance of Black Hills Energy is going to be our neighbor. This is going to be an outstanding expansion of the employment base for the Council Bluffs and a significant addition to the local economy,” said Dr. Dan Kinney, President of Iowa Western Community College.

Investing in Council Bluffs by constructing a new facility best suits the company’s strategic direction, a company official said.

“Black Hills Energy values the partnership with both the City of Council Bluffs and Iowa Western Community College,” said Tracy Peterson, vice president for Black Hills Energy Iowa operations. “This will allow us to enhance our workforce development capabilities and combine multiple operating facilities for efficiencies that will enable reliable customer service for the community well into the future.”

Black Hills Energy plans to break ground in the fall of 2018. Occupancy is anticipated for 2020.