Rail.One opens $22-million plant in Clinton

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Clinton, Iowa, is unveiling a $22-million project in its Lincolnway Railport.

German-based Rail.One is operating a plant that makes railroad ties for Union Pacific and other clients. It's European investment to create American jobs.

The Rail.One plant shows hard work in action on Tuesday.

That's where some 35 staffers make railroad ties. They'll carry freight trains with heavy loads.

"Quality is number one in everything we do," said Plant Manager Larry Huinker.

Having a railport already in place makes this possible.

"For us to be able to build a plant this size and have it operational in less than a year's time, to be making ties already for our customers is phenomenal," Huinker said.

The European business is helping to turn a local dream into reality.

"There's almost 60 trains a day that go by here," he said.

A concept for some 15 years, the Lincolnway Railport is ready to grow jobs, revive manufacturing and strengthen the regional economy.

"They're kind of a beacon that I think other companies can look at and see how successful they can be when they do come here," said Steve Howes, president of the Clinton Regional Development Corporation Board of Directors.

Clinton is working to make the most of its resources. This railroad connection is a natural link to building businesses. According to Howes, nearly a half-dozen firms are considering a move to the railport.

Rail.One is in the process of adding a second and third shifts in coming months. There will be some 65 local employees by the end of the year.

They'll be making nearly 600,000 heavy haul ties each year. Raw materials will also come from local businesses like Wendling Quarries.

"The substitution of the wooden ties by concrete ties will start," said Rail.One CEO Jochen Riepl. "With our technology and quality, it will even accelerate the process."

With hands-on work to build the future, Rail.One is ready to grow with the region.