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Half of jobs building Fort Madison, Iowa, prison went to out-of-state workers

Half of jobs building Fort Madison, Iowa, prison went to out-of-state workers

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DES MOINES — Nearly half of the construction jobs created by a $132 million state prison project in Fort Madison went to workers from outside of Iowa, according to new state numbers.

The data obtained by the Des Moines Register show that of the 888,691 contractor hours worked on the project, 476,001 hours — or about 53 percent — were completed by Iowa construction workers.

The new prison is tentatively set to open in March, and most of the major construction is finished.

Scott Norvell, president and chief executive of Master Builders of Iowa, a construction industry group, said that if state officials had enforced Iowa’s reciprocal preference law, at least 90 percent of the workforce of the Chicago-based Walsh Construction that built the prison would have been Iowa workers.

Under the law, Iowa companies hired for Illinois public works projects also must employ mostly Illinois workers for those projects. Iowa legislators have since strengthened the state’s reciprocal preference law to avoid a repeat of such problems, Norvell said.

Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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