A pulse-crop processing company set to begin operations in Minot's agricultural park early next year is seeking an interest buydown from the MAGIC Fund on a construction loan.
The MAGIC Fund Screening Committee voted Wednesday to recommend the Minot City Council approve $156,336 to buy down interest on a loan through the state PACE program for United Pulse Trading. The Bank of North Dakota also is providing interest buydown of $279,336. The company is approved for a $4 million PACE loan and $3.3 million loan through a private bank.
United Pulse Trading acquired the former MG Grain facilities a year ago from CF Foods, which had purchased the property in 2008. A subsidiary of Alliance Grain Traders of Saskatchewan, United Pulse Trading has a processing plant in Williston and sales office in Bismarck as well as other plants and facilities across the globe.
The company processes peas, lentils, chick peas and dry edible beans.
"Looking at the global positioning of our company and where we want to expand next, Minot has always been on our radar," said Eric Bartsch, general manager. "We really see this as one of our global hubs for value-added processing."
He said the production of pulse crops in the area and the presence of container shipping through the Port of North Dakota were major reasons why Minot is important.
"There's all kinds of logistical advantages to being located here. We ship to 105 countries around the world so logistics is key to us," he said.
The Minot facility also will be the company's first to mill product into flour and separate the protein, starch and fiber for sale to the food industry. Numerous food products contain added protein, starch or fiber.
"The feedback we are getting from the food industry has been tremendous because they are looking for a crop that is allergan-free, gluten-free, high protein. And these crops contain every one of them," Bartsch said. "The push from the food industry has made this a no-brainer for our company because of the opportunity."
As an example, he displayed a lentil chip product from a company that also makes a hummus product from chick peas.
United Pulse Trading's $20 million facility should be operational in the first quarter of 2013, employing 45 to 50 people, Bartsch said. He introduced Alan Svangstu, who has 16 years of food industry experience, as plant manager. Svangstu comes to Minot from Fargo.
Bartsch said the plant should be fully operational by summer.
"We are actually talking about additional expansion," he said. "Demand has been growing during the construction phase."
The PACE loan will be used to build out the current 30,000-square-foot building that will be used for processing. Another 36,000-square-foot building will be constructed for milling and the separation processes.