In a joint venture with a Korean biotechnology firm, Sioux City-based Nutra-Flo Co. will build an $8.76 million high-tech soy fermentation facility in North Sioux City, South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds said Wednesday. The first domestic project of its kind will create 34 new jobs.
The new venture, called Nutraferma, will use advanced Korean technology and a solid state fermentation technique to use soy and other plant-origin products to manufacture animal feeds. The expansion is being driven by a global demand to supply animal diets with high quality protein sources.
''This international joint venture will bring high-end positions to southeast South Dakota and open the door to new possibilities in the biotech and value-added ag arenas,'' Rounds said. "This company is a perfect fit as we continue to establish South Dakota as a leader in biotechnology.''
Nutraferma, a partnership between Nutra-Flo Protein and Biotech Products and Korean-based Genebiotech, is expected to break ground on the project and begin production in early 2008.
The partnership is poised to combine several successful animal feed ingredients developed by Genebiotech with the readily available supply of high quality raw materials in Siouxland. Once complete, the Nutraferma facility will be the nation's largest solid state fermentation installation.
South Dakota and North Sioux City had been competing with the city of Sioux City and Iowa for the Nutraferma project.
Nutraferma President Eric Lohry said the company has acquired additional land and options in North Sioux City's Flynn Business Park and plans to grow its operations. "This building will be the heart of the plant, but we already have future expansion plans in place,'' he said.
Nutraferma’s primary market is North America, but Lohry expects exports to go to Asia, Europe and South America, as well.
Nutraferma's parent companies have had a successful business relationship, promoting and distributing each other’s products since 1996.
Kory Menken, executive director of the North Sioux City Economic Development Corp., said the city is "honored Nutraferma and Genebiotech have chosen North Sioux City to launch their North American operations.''
"This is exactly the type of cutting-edge, high-tech venture we have been working to recruit to Flynn Business Park,'' he said.
Lohry, also president of Nutra-Flo, noted the ease in working with South Dakota officials on everything from permitting to site selecting.
"Any decision on site selection is based on a long-term commitment, and South Dakota definitely provides the best opportunity for long-term growth,'' he said.
Earlier this year, Lohry had expressed frustration with proposals being considered in the Iowa Legislature. At a hearing, he told Iowa lawmakers that a "fair share" proposal and other unfriendly business legislation under consideration at the Statehouse could prompt his company to move the Nutraferma project out of Sioux City. Fair share, opposed by many Republicans and pro-business groups who view it as an assault on the state's right-to-work law, ultimately died in the completed session. Democrats and labor unions had pushed the initiative, which called for nonunion workers to pay bargaining units a fee to cover services such as the the cost of negotiating new contracts.
Nutra-Flo Co., founded in Sioux City in 1928 as Kay Dee Feed, began as a livestock nutrition manufacturer and later expanded into liquid and dry fertilizer manufacturing. The family-owned, third-generation firm operates a group of companies that employ nearly 120 people at its Sioux City headquarters and six manufacturing plants in Sioux City, Port Neal Industrial Area and Kearney, Neb.