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Published February 04, 2014, 09:52 AM

ND ethanol plant incentive questioned

The Jamestown/Stutsman (N.D.) Development Corp. Board may reduce by two-thirds the incentives requested by Dakota Spirit AgEnergy ethanol plant.

By: Keith Norman, Forum News Service

The Jamestown/Stutsman (N.D.) Development Corp. Board may reduce by two-thirds the incentives requested by Dakota Spirit AgEnergy ethanol plant.

DSA had requested about $1 million through two programs. The new jobs training programs would loan it about $320,000, which would be repaid from North Dakota income tax withholdings from its employees. The jobs incentive program would grant the business about $600,000 from the JSDC funds based on $17,500 for each job created with a salary of more than $15 per hour.

The JSDC Board passed the new jobs training program on a unanimous vote Feb. 3. It voted to send the jobs incentive grant program portion of the application to the JSDC Executive Committee for further consideration on a 9-2 vote with Gary Riffe, JSDC chairman, and Bob Toso, board member, dissenting.

The cost of the grant concerned some members.

“If we’re looking at spending the same thing on CHS we don’t have that kind of money to support it,” said Kelly Rachel, board member.

The CHS nitrogen fertilizer plant is anticipated to create 150 to 200 jobs if the planned plant is built. Rachel estimated it could cost the JSDC about $3.5 million to offer the same jobs incentive grant to CHS.

“It forces us to pick and choose between projects,” said Ramone Gumke, Jamestown city councilman and JSDC Board member.

Toso said the topic should be sent to the executive committee or a special committee to review the program although the current applications should be considered.

“I agree that it’s a little uncomfortable to talk about after a proposal has been presented,” said Jamestown Mayor Katie Andersen, who is also a member of the JSDC Board. “But it says right at the top of the memo that it has to be approved by this board and the city and county.”

Andersen said her concern was these jobs grants would limit the JSDC’s resources and prevent it from offering incentives to other businesses that may want to locate at the Spiritwood Energy Park Association location.

Connie Ova, JSDC CEO, said it was an issue of credibility if the board refuses to pass incentives it offers as part of its incentive package.

“At present time, it’s pretty difficult for us to have credibility with these companies,” she said. “If it weren’t for this company (Great River Energy, parent company of DSA) we wouldn’t be worrying about housing in our community.”

The jobs incentive program loan now moves to the Jamestown City Council and Stutsman County Commission for review and possible passage.

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