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      Construction begins on Orascom plant near Wever Iowa

      A billion dollar investment in Southeast Iowa is beginning to take shape as the Orascom Corporation is starting to build its new fertilizer plant near Wever.

      Some of the contractors working at the site are based just a few miles from the construction and that means local companies are getting to help grow the local economy.

      Five thousand cubic yards of dirt is being moved to the fertilizer plant site everyday. And it's up to Meller Excavating based in Lee County to get that job done. They started the project last month and they think it will take them the rest of the summer to get it completed.

      "It's gotten a lot of business for the area. Local gas stations, a lot of local truck drivers, I mean everybody is getting a little piece of the pie on this job. And obviously we're busy with it," Scott Meller said.

      The Lee County based company says its had to hire additional drivers and buy new trucks for this project. Construction is expected to wrapped up in 2015. After the dirt work is completed more construction will begin. Lee County Economic Development Director Steve Bisenius said this is how the development plan is supposed to be coming together.

      "It's a fantastic project, certainly the largest project we've ever seen. And it certainly history in Iowa. But we're really pleased that the local contractors are involved in it. And the local workers. The drivers and some equipment from Des Moines. It's been a great boom, a great shot in the arm for us," Bisenius said.

      At the height of the construction on the plant, there are expected to be close to 2,500 construction workers who will help build what officials are calling one of the largest fertilizer plants in the U.S.

      Economic development officials also said they expect the plant to create 160 to 170 full-time jobs when it goes on line in two years.