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Bean company to take over BioFiber building

DEVILS LAKE—A Grand Forks-based dry bean processing company will store its stock in a Devils Lake industrial building that housed two failed biodegradable products businesses.

But leaders there said they want to attract a more permanent tenant that will create economic growth.

The Devils Lake City Commission on Wednesday signed a month-to-month lease for Dakota Dry Bean to use the 130,000-square-foot building at 1702 Schwan Ave. N.W. for dry storage, said Mayor Dick Johnson. Dakota Dry Bean will pay $4,000 a month to store its finished product in the building.

Johnson noted there will be no processing done at the Devils Lake building, so it will not create dust.

"I think it is a good fit," he said. "It gives them a place to store their product, and it creates some income for us."

The agreement comes days after an eviction hearing was held for BioFiber, a startup that planned to make paper products out of processed cattle manure in Devils Lake. Late last year, BioFiber signed a five-year lease with the city for the building Dakota Dry Bean will occupy, but the startup never made any products and missed three months of rent.

Another biodegradable products company called Ultra Green previously owned the building. It opened in 2012 and promised to create more than 300 jobs. At its peak, it had 50 workers before shutting down in mid-2015.

The city gained ownership of the building in a settlement after Devils Lake sued Ultra Green in order for the city to regain $2 million in incentives it gave to the company.

The BioFiber eviction was finalized Monday, Johnson said.

There has been interest in the building, Johnson said. Now that the eviction is complete, the city can begin to actively recruit potential tenants.

"If a permanent resident comes in, they (Dakota Dry Bean) understand that they would have to move out in 30 days," Johnson said.

The city also is reviewing operations at Forward Devils Lake, the city's economic development organization, to determine which businesses it should recruit to the city. That report is expected to be ready by the Dec. 4 City Commission meeting, Johnson said.

Dakota Dry Bean was founded in 1998 in Grand Forks and East Grand Forks, according to its website. It later expanded to the North Dakota cities of Devils, Lake, Washburn, Lansford and Crary.