Council hears from business owner with plans to move into former Scott Manufacturing building

T-R PHOTO BY ROBERT MAHARRY Marshalltown Area Chamber of Commerce President/CEO John Hall, left, and CO2 Refrigeration Systems Owner Zach Laws, right, address the city council about a proposal to seek a $20,000 local match as part of an application through the Iowa Economic Development Authority’s (IEDA’s) High Value Jobs Program during Monday night’s meeting. The council voted unanimously to bring back a formal resolution of support for the project, which will include moving into the former Scott Manufacturing building on East Anson Street and creating 48 jobs over the next three years.

Two weeks after moving forward with the first sale of a lot in the brand new Edgewood Industrial Park for a data center, the Marshalltown city council received more good news on the economic development front as local entrepreneur Zach Laws of CO2 Refrigeration Systems and Marshalltown Area Chamber of Commerce President/CEO John Hall presented information on a project that is expected to create nearly 50 jobs in the community over a three-year period.

As they stepped forward to the speaking podium together, Hall explained that he and Laws began engaging in conversations in late 2023 about opportunities to grow his company, which currently has two employees, in Marshalltown. Laws also explored options in Ames and Ankeny, but as a Marshall County native, he was happy to expand his operations locally.

The cost of the project to renovate and eventually move into the old Scott Manufacturing building on East Anson Street is estimated at $4 million, with a potential award from the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) of $177,500 and a $365,205 incentive through the 260E new jobs training program administered by Iowa’s community college system as a deferral of payroll taxes. The high quality jobs incentive does require a local match of at least $20,000.

Hall then moved into the details: 48 new jobs over three years with a starting wage of $22.50 per hour and an average wage of $26 per hour with the employer willing to pay 100 percent of the insurance premiums for individuals and families.

“We see this as a highly competitive opportunity and a great company to be able to recruit here, and I’ll let Zach talk a little about himself and his company,” Hall said.

Laws, who resides on West Main Street in Marshalltown, shared a bit of he and his wife’s history buying the house and fixing it up before the 2018 tornado ruined the pool shed. He felt the East Anson Street building they have already signed a purchase agreement for would suit the company’s needs “very well” going forward.

He then went a bit more in-depth on what exactly the company does.

“Our manufacturing business is focused on industrial and commercial refrigeration systems, so the smallest system we would build would be a system that would serve a Fareway or a Hy-Vee, and the largest system we would build would be as big as a JBS Swift and Company or, kind of, the sky’s the limit in terms of size,” Laws said. “The technology that we’re bringing to the U.S. is a technology that we became familiar with when my wife and I lived over in Australia.”

According to Laws, his career in refrigeration and HVAC started at Lennox and led him to move overseas before eventually returning and starting a business back in Iowa.

“We’ve got some tailwinds with some regulations that are really tightening up,” he said as he explained a law requiring supermarkets to move to 85 percent natural refrigerants by 2036.

He added that the focus of his company is “low volume, high value” products, and the company does not compete with Lennox.

“We’ll be heavy on the engineering side and heavy on the assembly side with our manufacturing and production here in Marshalltown, and as John mentioned, high value job creation,” Laws said. “We’re striving to create 48 jobs over the next three years, and a lot of those jobs will be welders, braziers and assemblers, which happens to align very nicely with some of the programs we already have at MCC and through Lennox and Fisher and many of those programs.”

Laws plans to close on the property by March 25 and start production on April 30. Hall then concluded by asking the council to bring back the discussion item in the form of a formal motion with a commitment of at least $20,000 in financial support.

Councilor Gary Thompson asked Laws what processes would be happening at the Marshalltown site, and he explained that they will simply manufacture the systems and sell them to either contractors or end users like grocery stores. He added that some CO2 will be used in testing, but the contractors and end users will be responsible for sourcing their own once they buy the systems.

Fellow Councilor Barry Kell spoke highly of the project.

“This is exciting. Thank you for the opportunity. Your foundation and your roots in Marshalltown are appreciated, and I’m glad you believe in us and are bringing this forward. I fully support it,” he said.

Thompson then asked Hall if the $20,000 had to be a grant or if it could also be a loan, and Hall responded that if it were a loan, it would have to be forgivable.

“It does not have to come from the city. It could come from others, but it is a requirement match. I will say, if it doesn’t come from the city, the state will be upset. They’ll be visibly frustrated. It’s an expectation across the state that cities contribute on projects, especially of this caliber,” Hall said. “Truthfully, most of the times when we’re seeing projects like this and seeing a job count like this, we’d expect maybe 10 to 15 percent of them to hit the qualifying wage threshold and it would end up in a much smaller incentive. This is, for the job creation that we’re getting and the magnitude and the wages, a real high impact opportunity, as well as the growth that Zach’s already starting to see within his company, could mean additional opportunities for Marshalltown in the future.”

Although there was a bit of confusion over whether the $20,000 could come from Tax Increment Financing (TIF) or Local Option Sales Tax (LOST), the council ultimately voted unanimously to bring it back as a formal resolution with the funding source to be determined at a later date.


Contact Robert Maharry at 641-753-6611 ext. 255 or



Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $4.38/week.

Subscribe Today