Cargill announced Thursday that it has purchased Tate & Lyle's corn wet mill ethanol plant in Fort Dodge for $57 million.
The announcement breathes new life into a facility that has been officially shuttered for more than two years.
The mill will be operational within 18 to 24 months, said Cargill spokeswoman Nicole Reichert. When functional, the plant will employ at least 100 or more full-time workers.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Dennis Plautz speaks during a press conference Tuesday afternoon called to announce Cargill’s purchase of the Tate & Lyle plant.
Reichert said wages will "be competitive with similar jobs in the area." She declined to name specific figures.
Under the Tate & Lyle banner, the plant was expected to produce 100 million gallons of ethanol per year
According to Reichert, Cargill expects to product 115 million gallons per year, using 150,000 bushels of corn daily.
"We're going to make some modifications to the facility to increase efficiency," she said.
Reichert said the facility will be modeled after Cargill properties in Eddyville and Blair, Neb.
"Our vision is to eventually produce other bio-based products at the facility," she said.
Exactly what may be produced has yet to be determined, Reichert said.
Among the scores of products in the Cargill line are industrial lubricants, deicing salts for roads and Truvia, a sweetener made from stevia leaves.
"We believe that a highly efficient, well-located corn wet mill ethanol plant fits well into our bio-product portfolio," said Alan Willits, president of Cargill Corn Milling North America, in a press release. "We see an opportunity in Fort Dodge to replicate the success we have had at our Blair, Neb., and Eddyville, Iowa, biorefinery campuses."
According to Willits, the plant will provide the base load corn grind for the campus.
"When completed, Fort Dodge will be a world class biorefinery campus that will produce ethanol and other bio-based products," he said.
Tate & Lyle also announced the sale - and its price - Thursday.
The London-based company broke ground for the Fort Dodge plant in September 2006.
The $260 million facility, the first corn wet mill built in the United States in more than a decade, was heralded as the largest single investment in Webster County by area leaders.
On March 18, 2009, construction of the plant was halted, with Tate & Lyle officials citing a downturn in the ethanol market as a reason for stopping work on the plant.
In June 2009, Chris Olson, director of community and government relations for Tate & Lyle, told people at a Good Morning Fort Dodge event, conducted by the Fort Dodge Area Chamber of Commerce, that the plant would remain shuttered for the foreseeable future.
Since then, officials with the city of Fort Dodge, Webster County and the Development Corporation of Fort Dodge and Webster County have worked to seek other occupants for the facility, said Dennis Plautz, director of Business Affairs and Community Growth for Fort Dodge.
Plautz appeared with Fort Dodge Mayor Matt Bemrich at a press conference Thursday afternoon.
According to Bemrich, officials identified six potential companies that could fill the space.
"Cargill was the best of the group," Plautz said. "I think everybody's going to come out of this a winner."
Shelly Blunk, director of economic development and industry training at Iowa Central Community College, said Cargill will be able to take advantage of job training programs offered at the college.
Bemrich thanked John Kramer and Cindy Litwiller at the Development Corporation, as well as Don Woodruff and city and county staff who, in his words, provided the information Cargill needed for the project.
Bemrich said city and state officials remain in discussion with Cargill as to economic incentives for the project.
"We have not yet determined which incentives will best fit this acquisition," Reichert said. "In the coming weeks and months we will be working with Iowa officials on which, if any, fit for us."
Terms for water and sewer services are currently being negotiated, Bemrich said.
The city incurred $3 million worth of debt to drill a new well near Sunkissed Meadows Golf Course and build a water main connecting it to the John W. Pray Water Facility on Phinney Park Drive. The City Council started that project about two years ago, when it was believed that hefty water bill payments from the Tate & Lyle plant would provide enough revenue to pay off the debt.
Tate & Lyle had received approximately $1.5 million in incentives from the Iowa Department of Economic Development. The company agreed to return the money in August 2010.
Contact Jesse Helling at (515) 573-2141 or email@example.com