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Animal feed plant set for Fort Dodge

By Staff | Oct 28, 2011

FORT DODGE – The development of a major facility for making a livestock feed additive advanced on Oct. 20, bringing the prospect of 180 more jobs and higher corn prices closer to reality in Webster County.

The amino acid plant, proposed by CJ Cheiljedang Corp., doing business as CJ America, os South Korean company, was awarded millions of dollars worth of state incentives by the Iowa Economic Development Authority Board.

Local officials said the Oct. 20 action was but one step toward creation of the $323 million plant. It was however, a step forward on a plan that calls for construction to begin in April 2012 in the North Central Ag Industrial Park west of Fort Dodge.

If all goes as planned, production could begin there in December 2013.

The plant would be the first one to use byproducts from the Cargill plant to make additional value-added agricultural products. The Cargill facility is the former Tate & Lyle plant. The company plans to open it in 2013.

”This is a great day for our region in many ways,” said Tim O’Tool, president of the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance board of directors.

”This investment further exemplifies the opportunities the ag park can and will create,” O’Tool added. ”It also illustrates the great relationship Cargill is developing with over the fence companies, and our regional economic development future.”

He said the proposed plant ”benefits our region economically in furthering value added agriculture that supports our farmers and further benefits area business and communities.”

Webster County Supervisor Keith Dencklau said the plant’s presence will benefit a 10-county region.

That benefit, he said, will come in the form of higher corn prices for more farmers. That corn will be delivered to Cargill, which will use it before passing on byproducts to CJ Cheiljedang.

According to Dencklau, Webster County farmers produce about 35 million bushels of corn a year. The Cargill plant, he said, will consume about 150,000 bushels a day. That’s more than Webster County farmers can provide, so their colleagues in surrounding counties will be delivering corn to the plant as well, he said.

He predicted that the plant’s presence could add up to 10 cents to the price of a bushel of corn.

”When farmers get money in their pockets, they buy pickups, they buy combines, they buy machinery,” Dencklau said. ”The money stays right here in the county.”

A spokeswoman for Cargill said the company is pleased with Thursday’s action by the Iowa Economic Development Authority Board.

”We are really excited,” Nicole Reichert said. ”We truly appreciate the state’s effort to make Iowa an attractive place for over the fence partners like CJ.”

The state’s incentive package, approved last week by a unanimous board vote, includes a $1.9 million loan to CJ Cheiljedang Corp. Half of that amount would be in the form of a no-interest loan that would be repaid over five years. The other half would not have to be repaid if the company creates and maintains jobs.

Other components of the package include:

  • A refund of up to $4.79 million in sales taxes paid during construction.
  • A $2.86 million investment tax credit.
  • A $100,000 research and development tax credit.

The company will also apply for $215 million from the Iowa Finance Authority.

The company will receive more than $1 million worth of employee training from Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge.

”We’ll be able to provide them with a lot of good training,” said college President Dan Kinney. ”Whatever the employer needs we’re going to figure out how to do it and adapt.”

Electrical maintenance and biosciences are two areas in which Iowa Central will likely provide training, according to Kinney.

The training will be financed with money the college will borrow. That debt will be paid off with payroll taxes from CJ Cheiljedang, according to Kinney.

O’Tool said attracting the plant to the area was ”a true collaborative effort” that included the state, city and county governments, the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance and the community college.

Gov. Terry Branstad was one of the state officials who worked to bring the company to Webster County.

He traveled to the company’s headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, twice and met with its representatives in Iowa, according to Dennis Plautz, the city’s director of business affairs and community growth.

Contact Bill Shea at (515) 573-2141 or bshea@messengernews.net.

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