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Published April 04, 2009, 12:00 AM

Company from India looking at Bismarck

BISMARCK(AP) — Bismarck development officials say a company from India wants to build a sunflower crushing plant in the city’s Northern Plains Commerce Center but they are not yet ready to release details of the project.

BISMARCK(AP) — Bismarck development officials say a company from India wants to build a sunflower crushing plant in the city’s Northern Plains Commerce Center but they are not yet ready to release details of the project.

City officials say the Dilawri Agro Foods would send the crushed sunflowers to India to be refined into cooking oil.

“There are an awful lot of details yet to be completed,” said Russ Staiger, the director of the Bismarck-Mandan Development Association. “These are people, and I respect them, saying, ’We’ve got to get all these things done before we make a splash that says we’re in business.”’

Staiger said the crushing plant would create about 25 jobs, with big benefits for area sunflower growers.

“The real value here, more than the jobs and what the jobs will pay, the real value is the opportunity for the people who grow sunflowers to have a new market without having to deliver them any great distance,” Staiger said Friday.

North Dakota is a national leader in sunflowers, harvesting an estimated 1.3 billion pounds used for oil last year.

“We have one large grower who apparently has a capacity for providing up to 40 percent of what these people would use,” Staiger said. “He says he spends $120,000 a year just in freight, moving his sunflowers to Fargo and Minneapolis. With this (Dilawri) facility being in Bismarck, he potentially can cut that to $20,000. The value is to the grower who will have more money at the end of the year because of reduced costs and better markets.”

Staiger said the plant itself would cost about $20 million. He said Dilawri is planning a refining facility later to make the oil, which would add an estimated $6 million to the value.

The state Board of Equalization has granted a five-year, 100 percent income tax exemption for the project.

Staiger said the value of the exemption depends on the plant’s profit. The company has contracts to market its products, he said.

“Their long-term goal is to be able to process the 2009 crop,” Staiger said. But the weather and other details are not yet uncertain, he said.

“They’re committed. We’re working with them, he said.

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