Mercer County economy boosted by urea plant

BEULAH, N.D. (AP) — One of North Dakota's largest ongoing construction projects is making its host county a harbor of economic stability while much of the state experiences tough economic times. A $500 million urea fertilizer plant started in 2014 is past the half-way construction mark within the...

BEULAH, N.D. (AP) — One of North Dakota's largest ongoing construction projects is making its host county a harbor of economic stability while much of the state experiences tough economic times.

A $500 million urea fertilizer plant started in 2014 is past the half-way construction mark within the sprawling industrial complex of Basin Electric Power Cooperative's Dakota Gasification Co. plant northwest of Beulah, The Bismarck Tribune (http://bit.ly/2f5dW7g ) reported.

Mercer County is already home to four power plants, two lignite coal mines and the synfuels plant. Sales were up 17 percent in the most recent reporting quarter compared to last year. That same number declined 26 percent statewide.

Tax Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger said coal industry counties are usually a beacon of stability over the years as other counties that are dependent on agriculture and oil struggle with declining commodity prices.

"It's clear that the urea plant, along with the development of the new Coyote Creek Mine, is contributing a lot to the Mercer County economy, as well as other counties," Rauschenberger said.

Project manager Jim Greer anticipates the second half of construction will run faster and will be completed by June.

The first half of construction had a setback due to a summer storm that lasted until July 3.

"We did an assessment, and it was decided that was what we had to do to make the site safe. Three months' worth of work was torn down in three weeks," said Greer.

About 50 people will be needed to operate the plant.

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Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com

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