Although construction work has already begun, Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman and dignitaries with Agrex, Inc., Burlington Northern Sante Fe Railway and the City of Laurel made it official. Through a recent ceremonial groundbreaking program, they initiated work on what will become a 110-railcar shuttle-loader facility for corn and soybeans for Agrex, Inc. along a line of rail northwest of Laurel, in Cedar County.
In his remarks to a sizeable crowd of area farmers, students, dignitaries and residents, Heineman cited the health of the agriculture economy, the business climate in the state and the leadership and partnerships that developed within the community and county as the keys to bringing Agrex to northeast Nebraska. "All of you came together. The city, the county and Agrex," Heineman said. "Job creation of six to eight jobs, maybe 10 jobs is huge for a small community. This is what we are trying to do all over the state."
Heineman said that exports from Nebraska have doubled in the past five years. Because of the growing population, the trendline for the agriculture economy looks bright for the next 25 to 30 years, he said.
Agrex, Inc. is a grain merchandising company based in Overland, Kan., with ties to Japan. The company purchased 125 acres running parallel to a short-line railroad owned by BNSF Railway, connecting Sioux City, Iowa, and O'Neill to the west. With completion expected by August 2014, the facility will consist of 1.6 million bushels of upright grain storage and one million bushels of pit storage, with a loop track for rail loading.
Rated at 80,000 bushels per hour, the facility will be capable of loading between 110 and 120 railcars of corn and soybeans. According to a May news release from Agrex, Inc., the facility will include two primary truck unload pits with a third pit for use during peak harvest time. It will give local producers access to export markets in the Pacific Northwest, Mexico and the Gulf, as well as domestic feed markets across the U.S.
Agrex President/CEO, Shu Kobayashi, told the group that his company has established a trust and relationship with the community of Laurel, and he hopes to extend that same kind of relationship to local farmers and surrounding communities. "We hope to bring added value to grain with this facility," Kobayashi said.
Laurel mayor, Mark Patefield, told the group that the facility is important to farmers and others around Laurel. "It's been exciting to see this project go from an idea on paper to something you can physically see," Patefield said. "We look forward to taking the next step."
In addition to the Laurel facility, Agrex, Inc. operates similar shuttle-loader facilities in Nebraska in Superior and Enola. Todd and Sargent, of Ames, Iowa, are building the Laurel facility.