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Economic impact

•Koch Fertilzer will invest $140 million in Webster County plant; • 1,500 employees of contractors could be on site

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson
Koch Fertilizer plans to expand production at its Duncombe plant, located east of Fort Dodge.

Koch Fertilizer’s $140 million investment in its ammonia plant east of Fort Dodge will have a ripple effect throughout the Webster County economy, according to local officials.

The company announced last week its intentions to increase production capacity at the plant, 3162 200th St., Duncombe.

The upgrades will boost yearly production by 85,000 tons, the company reported.

And while the company did not indicate in its announcement if any new jobs would be created, Fort Dodge Mayor Matt Bemrich said he was optimistic that there would be more opportunities at the plant.

“You can only imagine that kind of investment in production capacity will lead to new jobs,” Mayor Matt Bemrich said.

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson
The Koch Fertilizer plant, located just off 200th Street in Duncombe, will see several upgrades in the coming months as the company plans to invest millions of dollars to ensure the plant remains up-to-date.

The mayor described Koch Fertilizer as “a good local partner in Webster County and the greater region.”

In past years, Bemrich has been complementary of Koch for its worker safety and environmental commitment.

According to information on its website, Koch’s nitrogen plants take natural gas, combine it with nitrogen from the air, and under intense heat and pressure make anhydrous ammonia. Anhydrous ammonia is the building block for Koch’s nitrogen fertilizer.

Most of that anhydrous ammonia is further refined to produce UAN Solution, a fertilizer which is 32 percent nitrogen. The plant can make 1,000 tons of anhydrous ammonia and 1,800 tons of UAN Solution every day.

Webster County Supervisor Mark Campbell estimated that as many as 1,500 employees of contractors could be working at the plant as the project progresses.

“That affects our restaurants, hotels, everything,” he said. “This is another opportunity for local businesses and it couldn’t come at a better time.”

Bemrich said that having a large number of contractors working on the plant will give the local economy a boost.

“The effects of a project like that reverberate throughout our economy,” he said.

In its announcement, Scott McGinn, executive vice president of Koch Fertilizer, said, “These investments reinforce our confidence in the future of the ammonia market and allow us to better serve our customers.”

Work is set to begin next year and be completed by the fall of 2022.

“We’re excited that Koch Fertilizer continues to invest in Webster County,” Campbell said.

The project will increase production, improve safety and improve compliance with environmental regulations, according to Dennis Plautz, CEO of the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance.

“It will increase production significantly to keep it cutting edge,” Plautz said.

“It’s a very good thing,” he added. “We’re happy to see the investment.”

Over the years, Koch Fertilizer has made upgrades to the plant. Replacing a cryogenic storage tank at a cost of about $20 million was the most recent upgrade.

“In the last five years, we’ve made several investments to improve the customer experience and ensure the longevity of the Fort Dodge plant,” Shawn Campbell, the plant’s manager, said in a written statement. “Modification to our ammonia heating and pumping capability was a key improvement.”

The plant between Fort Dodge and Duncombe opened in 1964. Koch Nitrogen Co. bought it in 2003.

Koch is a privately owned company with nearly 30,000 employees in about 50 countries, according to its website. It is headquartered in Wichita, Kansas.

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