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Gov. Branstad visits RMA Armament

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

By Kyle Ocker

Associate Editor RMA Armament has been operational for about two months now at their new location in Centerville at what used to be the local Iowa National Guard Armory on Dewey Road.

The annual governor’s hunt, which is held in Appanoose County, is what introduced RMA Armament and it’s owner and founder, Blake Waldrop, to the area. The man behind that hunt, current Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, was in town Friday to check out RMA’s new facility, and learn about the production process of the world’s strongest armor that is now made in Centerville.

“It’s a very impressive reuse of this former National Guard Armory,” Branstad said after his tour was complete. “And we met these people through the governor’s deer hunt. So, it’s an example of how that led to this company choosing to locate here in Centerville. They’ve got a dozen employees and it’s a growing company and hopefully it can continue to grow.”

Once RMA Armament took over at the former National Guard armory, it put the building on the tax rolls for the first time in it’s history.

“It put it on the tax rolls and, I think, they’re a good employer and their salaries are above the average in the area,” Branstad. “So it’s a positive deal.”

The governor arrived Friday afternoon at the facility during a southern Iowa swing tnat included stops in Chariton, Humeston, Bloomfield and Albia.

He toured the facility at RMA and seen first-hand along with several onlookers how the various armor products are made. During the tour, Branstad operated one of the large presses RMA Armament uses to complete their products.

Branstad said he knew of at least two other businesses that came to Iowa directly because of the governor’s hunt. One moved from Illinois to the Quad Cities and another from Minneapolis to Sibley in northwest Iowa.

“I know of at least three that have been at the governor’s hunt that have moved their companies to Iowa,” Branstad said. “So, it’s been a good thing. Plus, it’s a good thing for the Centerville area to have it come here and we always have a good time and we’re going to continue to keep it here.”

RMA moved into their current facility on Dewey Road in March of this year. They are leasing the facility from the City of Centerville, who had purchased the armory for $1 after it was closed in 2014. The lease is for 15 years and comes out to around $1 million. RMA will be able to purchase the building any time after June 1, 2021 for the remaining amount of what is owed, according to the agreement.

Waldrop visited Centerville for the annual governor’s hunt on Jan. 8, 2016. Around that time, Waldrop was looking for a new home for RMA Armament and was made aware of the former National Guard armory building. Soon after, talks to acquire the building from the city began.

Kyle Ocker can be reached at kocker@dailyiowegian. com. Follow him on Twitter @ Kyle_Ocker.

Category: Economic Development

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