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Enjoying the moment

CJ Bio America celebrates continued growth, expansion

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson
Harry Jang, CEO of CJ North/South America, left, shakes hands with Fort Dodge Mayor Matt Bemrich following groundbreaking ceremony for a planned expansion at CJ Bio America on Thursday. The company is investing about $20 million in its Webster County plant to increase production of threonine, an amino acid used in types of livestock feed.

Few companies in the Fort Dodge region have experienced the type of growth seen at CJ Bio America.

Nine years ago the company invested over $320 million in its Webster County plant, which produces an amino acid called lysine.

Then in June of 2019, the company completed a $53 million expansion that led to the creation of 20 new jobs. That phase is called the G (granular) project. It allowed the CJ to produce an amino acid called threonine. The amino acids promote better muscle growth in swine and poultry.

Now another expansion is planned. CJ will invest about $20 million to increase production of threonine. The project, called G2, will create about 25 new jobs, bringing the total number of employees up to about 250.

To celebrate the achievement, representatives from CJ and Webster County elected officials gathered at the plant west of Fort Dodge on Thursday for a ribbon cutting and groundbreaking ceremony. About 70 people attended.

-Submitted photo
The Fort Dodge Regional Airport welcomed CJ Bio America representatives from Chicago, Mexico, and Los Angeles on Thursday. The representatives flew in on the new United Express jet service to attend their G2 Project Groundbreaking Ceremony at the CJ Bio America plant, west of Fort Dodge.

Harry Jang, CEO of CJ North/South America, was happy to be able to meet with attendees in person.

“Today, even though we are wearing masks, we are here together in person finally,” Jang said.

And although Jang said that CJ already has its eyes toward the next expansion, he thought it was important to appreciate how far the company has already come.

“I am really happy,” Jang said. “Today we are here to celebrate to take another step to our future. We are preparing G3, G4 and G5 continuously. That is our job and that is what we are supposed to do. We are one team, one company. The most important thing is today is not the end of our story. We are bringing new investments and new business here in Fort Dodge. But today, I don’t want to worry about our future too much. Let’s enjoy today and this moment. I think we deserve it.”

According to Joe Lucas, vice president and general manager of CJ America Bio business for North America, the recently announced expansion will increase production from 30,000 metric tons of threonine to 50,000 metric tons.

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson
Representatives of CJ Bio America, joined by Webster County elected officials, ceremoniously break ground a planned expansion at the Webster County plant on Thursday.

The new production area will be directly south of the current plant.

Luke Palmer, CJ Bio America senior operations manager, said the reason CJ has been successful is because of its teams.

“Looking back through the years, I would like to say a special thank you to some groups — City Council, our Growth Alliance, our county supervisors, our state representatives, Debi Durham at Iowa Economic Development. Gov. Reynolds and her team. That combined team matched with our team really do some awesome stuff.”

Palmer said the Webster County plant represents the first bio manufacturing plant built in North America for CJ.

“We are here today to celebrate G2, our second granular expansion,” Palmer said. “This will also open the door for other granular products we could produce for swine and poultry. Even though it says nine years of progress. I believe we are still in the beginning. Thank you to everybody who has helped us.”

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson
CJ Bio America representatives and Webster County elected officials celebrate with a ribbon cutting on Thursday at the plant. The company is planning about a $20 million expansion to increase the production of threonine, an amino acid used in livestock feed. About 25 new jobs will be created as part of the expansion.

Mark Campbell, chairman of the Webster County Board of Supervisors, described CJ as a “benchmark.”

“A theme in Webster County is Webster County starts with we. CJ you are a big part of that we,” Campbell said. “You have become a benchmark for what we ask and look for when the Growth Alliance goes out to seek new industries and companies coming here.”

Campbell added, “From 2012 to today, you hit the ground running and you haven’t stopped. There’s not a community project that goes on that we don’t see CJ employees and teams at. You are a great representation of what we want in Webster County.”

Jaewoo Oh, the CEO of CJ Bio America in Fort Dodge, credited all of the employees for their hard work.

“If it were not for the tremendous team effort for all involved we would not be here today celebrating our success on another expansion,” Oh said. “We have all worked so hard and it is refreshing to see our effort pay off so that we can once again expand and create more value for our consumers and our community. With our expansion we will be able to provide more high quality products to swine and poultry throughout the country. This is just another step on our road to success.”

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