Plant will directly support 80 to 100 jobs, broader job impact could top 300.
Epitome Energy, LLC Friday afternoon officially announced the selection of Crookston, Minn., as its location for a 21-million bushel, soybean-solvent extraction facility, a 30-million gallon biodiesel facility and a specialty soybean mechanical extraction plant that includes a specialty oil refining operation.
“After an exhaustive search process, we are excited to announce this new project will be located in Crookston,” says Dennis Egan, owner of Epitome Energy. “Northwest Minnesota has long been under served in the area of value-added processing for the soybean growers. Over 1.8 million acres of Soybeans are planted in the 10 counties surrounding Crookston, making this a strategic location for a project of this size.”
The major goal of this project is to enhance soybean grower profitably and endure the global fluctuation in markets by providing a year-round processing location for their crops and to add value to the local economy. A study conducted by the University of Minnesota Extension states the basis for soybeans in the region, once the plant is operational, will close the soybean market price gap by as much as .20 per bushel.
CHEDA Executive Director Craig Hoiseth said the benefit to farmers in the region will be significant. And it will boost the Crookston tax base, while having a region-wide impact.
"There will be many new and exciting jobs of various technical and professional capacities. Obviously, this facility will result in a lot of economic activity not only for the construction period, but also continuing into start up and operation. The tax base in Crookston will be expanded, which benefits everyone," Hoiseth tells the Times. "Value-added agriculture is always near the top of CHEDA's strategic priorities because it has been proven time and time again, if our farmers are successful our community reaps those benefits.
"We so appreciate Epitome Energy and welcome them to Crookston recognizing this facility will be providing our area producers with another needed market opportunity," Hoiseth added.
In addition, the University study indicated this project, once operational, will generate $322.8 million in new economic activity and support 330 new jobs. The plant will support 80 to 100 direct jobs and have an estimated payroll and benefits of more than $5 million dollars.
Soybeans are now a predominant crop grown in Northwest MN; acreage in this region now exceeds that of hard red spring wheat and farmers continue to increase their soybean yields. This growth in total soybean supply (and developments in federal trade policy that affect access to global markets) highlights the economic importance of projects that will expand the value-added processing of agricultural products in this region and diversify the markets they are sold into.
The 11 counties impacted by this facility produced more than 58 million bushels of soybeans in 2017, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agriculture Statistics Service (2018 numbers will be released in February). That production is approximately four times the necessary soybeans required for a crush facility of this size. This project provides the opportunity to unlock additional value through improved margin on more than 21.5 million bushels of soybeans and access to new value-added markets from 471,000 tons per year of soybean meal, and more than 30 million gallons per year of biodiesel production.
In addition to an abundant supply of soybeans, this location has all of the necessary infrastructure and a willing community partner.
“We are now in the process of engaging with potential partners and investors in the development of this value-added facility,” Egan says. “We also want to thank the Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council, the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture for their input and early financial support thus far in the development of the feasibility studies that were needed to get this project off the ground.”
About Epitome Energy
Epitome Energy is a developer of value-added agricultural processing opportunities focusing on renewable energy and soybean processing opportunities in Minnesota.