Soybean Plant Headed To South Sioux City

Specialty Protein Producers abandoned plans for $40 million soybean processing plant in Norfolk, Neb., due to inadequate natural gas supply.

NORFOLK, Neb. (AP) - Norfolk's $40 million loss apparently is South Sioux City's gain.
An inadequate supply of natural gas caused the plant developers to abandon plans to build a $40 million soybean processing plant in Norfolk.
Susanne Stoeger-Moore, president of Specialty Protein Producers of Port Washington, Wis., said Friday that her company board of directors ruled out Norfolk on Thursday.
''Norfolk is out of consideration for the plant, unfortunately, because we really loved Norfolk very much,'' she told the Norfolk Daily News.
''The problem is so complex ... the gas pipeline that comes into Norfolk is just inadequate to meet needs of all the businesses and the cities and the future growth on those lines,' she added.
In a news release announcing the selection of South Sioux City, Stoeger-Moore said the company was flattered to be so ardently wooed.
''Unfortunately, at the end of the day, we were only able to select one,'' she said. ''South Sioux City captured our attention nearly two years ago, and they have remained a very attractive potential location for us throughout what became a very difficult site selection process.''
Said South Sioux City Mayor Bob Giese on Saturday: ''We're very excited, we're very excited!''
''At one point we thought we were out, but now we're back.''
Norfolk officials and investors got the bad news Thursday night, said R.J Baker, director of the Elkhorn Valley Economic Development Council.
''Obviously it's disappointing,'' he said. ''We've worked with them for 18 months. The city and Elkhorn Valley have given them virtually everything they wanted and gone above and beyond to raise funds,'' Baker said.
City officials and representatives from Aquila, the gas supplier, and Kinder Morgan, a pipeline company, talked often in the past week to find a solution to gas problem but couldn't find one that would work soon enough.
A Tulsa, Okla., energy marketer earlier this week talked to the Nebraska Public Service Commission about building a 150-mile pipeline to the Norfolk area. But even if it were built, it apparently would come too late to satisfy the soybean plant's more immediate needs.
Chris McGowan of the Siouxland Initiative, an arm of the South Sioux City chamber of commerce, told the Sioux City (Iowa) Journal that natural gas wouldn't be a problem for his city because of measures that will be taken by MidAmerican Energy.
To accommodate the soybean plant, Norfolk had annexed a 179-acre site. Up to 45 acres were to be set aside for the plant, which will manufacture organic soy isolates for food products.
The city approved $2.77 million in financing for sewer, water and street work, grading and a railroad siding, then approved a $505,000 application for a state block grant to help buy equipment for the plant.
The plant reportedly will have 60 employees who will make an average $18 an hour, with some managers making $60,000 to $90,000.
Dirt work on the South Sioux City site was expected to begin by Sept. 1, and McGowan said the plant should be operating sometime next year.
Daniel McNamara, economic director for South Sioux City, Neb., said Specialty Protein Producers will be buying about 30 acres that had already been developed by the community development agency and will be paying an estimated $20,000 an acre.
''We're going to have to pave a road to them,'' McNamara said, ''but we did not have to give up any property tax'' incentives.
He, too, was happy for his community but didn't want to crow too loudly.
''I feel sorry for the whole Norfolk community, but at least we kept the plant in northeast Nebraska,'' he said.
More in Operations