Today, the dream of turning the area of Webster County just west of Fort Dodge into a major hub for manufacturing enterprises with an agricultural focus takes a huge step toward becoming reality.
This afternoon, ground will be broken for the $323 million CJ Bio America plant. The facility will use corn starch from the adjacent Cargill wet milling plant to manufacture amino acids to be used in livestock feed. Construction is expected to be finished by early 2014. Once fully operational, the new plant will have a work force of about 170, making an enormous contribution to the local economy.
The huge investment in Webster County by CJ CheilJedang Corp., a South Korean company that owns CJ Bio America, is its first production plant to be built in the United States.
The decision to locate near Fort Dodge was related in part to the presence of the Cargill plant. Additional factors that helped sell the company on Webster County were the presence of two major, intersecting railroad lines and the educational resources of Iowa Central Community College.
Additionally, last year the Iowa Economic Development Authority awarded millions of dollars in financial incentives to CJ Bio America to help persuade company officials that the Hawkeye State is an ideal venue for its operations.
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds will participate in today's ceremonies to reaffirm the state's commitment to this important economic development project. Branstad and Reynolds have championed this effort from the beginning, as part of a broad-ranging strategy to strengthen Iowa's economy.
This Messenger applauds the arrival of this exciting addition to our area's corporate assets. City, county and private sector leaders - with a major assist from officials in the state capital - have worked hard over the past few years to get business leaders to recognize our community's potential. Fort Dodge and Webster County are ideally suited to become home to a diverse mix of agribusinesses.
The investment decisions of Valero, Cargill and CJ Bio America have validated the soundness of that vision. Today's festive event could well be just the first of many similar ceremonies.