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Published November 12, 2012, 10:07 AM

2 pillars of growth

North Dakota’s oil patch is booming, and that’s good for Minot, northwest North Dakota’s largest city. But Minot sees great opportunities in agribusiness, too, an economic development official says.

By: Jonathan Knutson, Agweek

MINOT, N.D. — North Dakota’s oil patch is booming, and that’s good for Minot, northwest North Dakota’s largest city. But Minot sees great opportunities in agribusiness, too, an economic development official says.

“We feel very bullish about our ability to attract agribusinesses and oil businesses to Minot,” says Jerry Chavez, president and CEO of the Minot Area Development Corp.

Part of his optimism comes from the Minot Value-Added Agricultural Complex, which has easy access to BNSF’s intermodal rail services.

Intermodal — think interconnected modes of transportation — allows cargo in a container to be transported by more than one type of carrier during a single journey. The carriers can include rail, truck and ship.

The cargo itself doesn’t need to be handled when the container is switched from one carrier to another. That holds down costs and allows faster delivery.

The intermodal facility in Minot, known as the Port of North Dakota, now consists of about 140 acres. Plans call for adding another 3,000 acres, as well as 45 miles of new track, Chavez says.

Last year, BNSF invested $35 million in its Gavin Yard, east of Minot, to enhance the city’s rail capacity, Chavez notes.

Several agribusinesses have committed to establishing Minot locations or are interested in doing so, Chavez says. They include:

•United Pulse Trading is expanding into the Value-Added Agricultural Complex. United Pulse is a U.S. subsidiary of Alliance Grain Traders Inc. of Regina, Saskatchewan. The new Minot facility will process dry beans, chickpeas, peas and lentils, which are all pulse crops. North Dakota is the nation’s leading producer of dry beans and some other pulse crops, and dry edible peas and lentils are particularly popular with farmers in the northwest part of the state.

•Midwest Milling plans to build a barley and oats processing plant in Minot’s agricultural park. Alexander Co. of Bancroft, Idaho, currently operates a pilot plant, under the Midwest Milling name, in Stanley, N.D., about 50 miles west of Minot. North Dakota is the nation’s leading barley producer, and the crop is most common in the north-central part of the state.

•C & Foods, based in City of Industry, Calif., has expressed interest in building a Minot plant. The company describes itself as a major grower, packer, distributor and exporter of dried beans, peas, rice and popcorn.

Chavez says several other ag businesses have talked with the Minot Area Development Corp. about coming to Minot. He declined to release their names.

He stresses that, even with the oil boom in western North Dakota, Minot officials place a high value on agriculture.

“Our desire to bring other agribusinesses to Minot is very strong,” Chavez says.

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