By Kylie Balk-Yaatenen - November 2nd 2023
At the entrance to the city of Evansville a sign reads “Soybean Capital of Wisconsin.” Now, the Soybean Capital could be in line for a new $700 million soybean processing facility.
City Administrator Jason Sergeant said CHS Inc., a farmer-owned cooperative based in St. Paul, Minnesota, is working to secure city approval to build the soybean processing facility on 300 acres of farmland on the city’s east side. The hope, with needed approvals, is to open it in the next couple of years.
“CHS is considering expanding its overall soy processing capabilities in response to continued growth in demand for soybean oil and meal, including potential construction of a new 70-million-bushel oilseed processing facility. A potential new processing facility would complement the company’s existing capabilities,” CHS said in a statement this week.
“CHS operates soybean crush, processing, refining and export facilities across the Midwest. Adding capacity aligns with overall CHS growth strategy and creates more value for farmer- and cooperative-owners. The company is evaluating several locations, including a site near Evansville, Wisconsin. With appropriate approvals, including from state and local units of government, the project could bring as many as 90 jobs to the region,” the release said.
Doug Rebout, vice president of the Wisconsin Soybean Association, an organization for soybean farmers across the state, said Rock County is the leading soybean growing county in the state producing roughly 6 million bushels a year.
Rebout said Evansville is a good location for the processing facility because of existing infrastructure, including close proximity to state and interstate highways.
Rebout said other than a soybean crushing plant now being built in Waupun, a little over an hour from Evansville, there are no other soybean processing facilities in the state.
He said the proposed processing facility would expand market access for Wisconsin soybean growers, potentially boosting prices.
“Having that plant there will be good for the farmers and other businesses, and the economy in general because this fire is going to employ 90 employees,” Rebout said. “They’re going to be investing a lot of money into the infrastructure of Evansville. So, having this plant there is not just a benefit to farmers, but it’s a benefit to everyone in the economy around it.”
Sergeant said construction could begin as early as the spring of 2024, pending needed approvals, and the vision is to open the plant in 2026.
The Evansville City Council has thus far approved the annexation of the 300 acres, a rezoning, a site plan and a conditional use permit. The council is expected in December to consider a developer’s agreement and a tax incremental finance plan, Sergeant said.
The plant, that would be located at Highway M and 14, is expected to employ up to 90 people, operate 24/7 and bring 45 trucks a day into the city.
Sergeant said it will bring jobs and people and bolster the local economy.
“It brings people to Evansville whether it is trucks, facility workers, or people coming into look at the facility. They will be spending money at businesses in Evansville and that helps us out,” he said.
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