Much of the economy in the United States depends upon contributions of business owners, large and small, and Keokuk and the Tri-State Area are no exception. Nearly half of Keokuk and area employment is derived from the business, service and retail sector undefined either directly or indirectly.
Keokuk’s original business district begins at Second and Main Streets near the Keokuk-Hamilton Bridge. In the years since the middle 1800s the business district gradually has extended through the 4000 block of Main Street. Proximity to shopping and vital services enhances residents’ lifestyles and attracts shoppers from the outlying rural areas in Lee County and neighboring communities in Hancock County, Ill., and Clark County, Mo.
Supporting it all are services provided by the Keokuk Area Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber supports and promotes existing businesses year around while reaching out to visitors and new enterprises that would add to the fabric of the business community. The Keokuk Economic Development Corporation teams with the Chamber to pursue enterprises that would fit well in the area.
New businesses and companies are welcomed into the community by the Chamber, and improvements and expansions by settled enterprises are publicized and celebrated as community events. Seminars, marketing information and resources are made available to the business community and general public through special Chamber programs and events, which further enhance cohesion within the business sector.
Keokuk area industry is expecting additional benefits from the city’s location at the confluence of the Mississippi and Des Moines rivers undefined more benefits than at any time in the recent past.
City and business leaders in conjunction with area leaders and local legislators have succeeded in forming the first port authority in Iowa, a multi-modal transportation hub and warehouse facility. As the port authority further develops in the next several years, the entity will help maximize Keokuk’s place in the industrial community, using barge transportation, proximity to major highways, railroads, airports and a wide variety of warehouse space.
The Keokuk Economic Development Corporation and the Lee and Fort Madison economic development groups, are aggressively marketing the area to prospective industries who would benefit from the formation of the port. Roquette America, a French-owned corn-based industry located at the Keokuk riverside, is the city’s largest industrial employer and a successful user of area transportation options.
Other Keokuk factories, such as Griffin Wheel, a globally known manufacturer of cast iron railroad wheels, Henniges Automotive, producer of vehicle window molding and other products and Custom Hardware Manufacturing Inc., a producer of handles and other items known for excellence throughout the world, show the diversity of industry already in the area.
Keokuk’s Kindustry Park offers property already developed and zoned for major industry, offering water and sewer and instant access to the U.S. Highway 61 bypass. In addition to CHMI, Kindustry Park is home to six additional area industries. In addition to Kindustry Park, North Park, now more of a retail site, also is developed for industry. The Tri- State Area surrounding Keokuk also offers areas suitable for industrial development.
The labor force in Keokuk as well as the Tri-State Area is second to none. Partnership with the local community college makes job training programs and facilities readily available for specialized production training.