An Idaho milling company with a pilot project in Stanley is asking for $350,000 from the MAGIC Fund to open a plant in Minot's agricultural park.
The MAGIC Fund Screening Committee voted Wednesday to recommend the Minot City Council approve the request. The committee also is recommending spending $2.7 million to provide gap financing for the 55th Street overpass project.
Midwest Milling proposes to invest between $6 million and $7 million and employ up to nine people with the construction of an oats and barley processing facility in Minot. Construction would start next spring on the plant. The MAGIC Fund money would go toward constructing about 900 feet of rail spur to the property this year for bringing in raw products.
Wade Clark, principal with Alexander Co., met with the committee to explain his company's operations and plans to locate its Midwest Milling operation in Minot. Alexander Co. ships between 30,000 and 40,000 tons of finished oat products every year from the plant in southeast Idaho that opened in 1994. Midwest Milling is one of the top three producers of pearled barley in the United States.
The company was attracted to North Dakota, the nation's largest barley producer, two years ago. It employs two people in a pilot project in Stanley to pearl barley. Pearled barley has its outer hull removed.
"We have been in production for a little over a year. Now we are just looking for a good permanent home," Clark said.
Clark, who has been in the grain business for 30 years, said the market for pearled barley has increased with interest from pet food companies. The commonly used corn and wheat are more likely to cause pet allergies, he said.
The company also would like to duplicate its success with oat flakes at its Idaho plant in its North Dakota facility, he said. The company sells the flakes for granola and other retail uses. It also makes a gluten-free oat product.
"But our primary breadwinner is pearled barley," Clark said. "One of the things we would like to do is look at the local products that are produced and add as much value as we can to that local commodity before we ship it out."
The MAGIC Fund assistance would consist of a $200,000 grant and a $150,000 forgivable loan. Midwest Milling would need to employ nine people by 2015 and maintain that number for three years to receive full loan forgiveness.
The proposed grant for the 55th Street overpass would complete funding on the $22.6 million project. Federal, state and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad funds are covering the bulk of the cost, but the city and Ward County are looking to the MAGIC Fund to pick up the remaining local share. According to the Minot Area Development Corp., which is making the funding request, local funds are difficult to come by due to the financial strain from the 2011 flood.
Jerry Chavez, president of MADC, said the overpass will provide safe, efficient movement of traffic around the intermodal facility and the agricultural park.
Chavez also announced that MADC is reimbursing nearly $1.7 million to the MAGIC Fund in proceeds from property sales in the energy park. The MAGIC Fund provided MADC with funds for land development, which later were recouped in the sale of developed industrial properties.
In other business, the screening committee approved marketing match requests ranging from $900 to $4,000 for 13 rural communities. Grants total $35,400. Communities to receive marketing assistance are Anamoose, Crosby, Garrison, Granville, Harvey, Kenmare, Maddock, Riverdale, Rugby, Sherwood, Turtle Lake, Underwood and Velva.