Report looks at impact of constructing plant, then the impact once Epitome Energy is operational here

    The University of Minnesota Extension Center for Community Vitality, in partnership with Crookston Housing & Economic Development Authority, conducted a report of the potential economic impact and basis analysis of a soybean crush and biodiesel facility that would be built on Crookston’s south end. The report was authored by Brigid Tuck, Edward Usset, and Rani Bhattacharyya, who presented to Tuesday’s Epitome Energy project audience at Valley Technology Park.

    The 100-acre soybean crush and biodiesel facility in Crookston could generate millions of dollars in economic activity and support hundreds of jobs both during construction and during the facility’s operation. Plus, when fully operational, the facility could narrow the discount and raise the soybean basis.

    Here are some numbers associated with the potential economic impact of the facility pointed out in the study:

    • The construction of the new facility could generate $134 million in economic activity and support 820 jobs

    • Operation of the new facility could generate $322.8 million in new economic activity and support 330 new jobs

    • When fully operational, the new facility could narrow the discount by an estimated $0.10 to $0.20 per bushel

    • Operation of the new facility could generate $323.9 million of new economic activity in the 11-county region which includes Becker, Clay, Clearwater, Kittson, Mahnomen, Marshall, Norman, Pennington, Polk, Red Lake, and Roseau counties

    • Soybean purchases could support $58.9 million in farm-related output, including $12.2 million in labor income

    Soybean production in Northwest Minnesota has more than tripled since 1997 and Polk County farmers planted 326,000 acres of soybeans in 2018, the highest acreage of any Minnesota county. Soybeans are the primary source for biodiesel and Minnesota allegedly does not produce enough biodiesel to meet their current mandate. The proposed facility in Crookston, the report outlined, presents a business opportunity.

    The new facility could process 65,000 bushels a day or close to 22 million annually based on a 333-day operational year, Epitome Energy’s Dennis Egan told Tuesday’s crowd. It could also produce 30 million gallons of biodiesel per year and crush soybeans into meal that could be processed for animal feed.

    The proposed crush and biodiesel plant will cost approximately $281.4 million annually to operate, the study says. The largest expense will be purchasing soybeans for the plant, accounting for 84 percent of expenditures.

    Top industries affected by the operations of the proposed facility include food and drinking places, agriculture support services, real estate, wholesale trade, rail transportation, professional and scientific services, postal service, couriers and messengers, grant-making and similar organizations, hospitals and social assistance entities.