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VOL. 129 | NO. 134 | Friday, July 11, 2014

Cargill to Invest $45 Million in West Memphis Facility

By Amos Maki

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Cargill Inc. will invest $45 million to build a grain handling and shipping facility in West Memphis, the company announced Friday, July 11.

Cargill, which operates a corn mill on Presidents Island in Memphis, said in a statement that the new facility would “ become a key origination point in the south for soybeans, corn, milo and wheat.”

“Our farmer-customer base on the southern river system is strategic to Cargill’s global supply chain, and the West Memphis facility will be a very competitive market for deliveries,” said Fred Oelschlaeger, regional manager for Cargill’s Southern River Region of grain elevators and farm service centers, in a statement. “The West Memphis location will be easy to reach with large semi-loads of grain, and will have excellent access for loading barges, during both high and low river levels.”

The West Memphis plant will have three truck-receiving areas for unloading grain and will be capable of holding up to five barges, loading as many as eight barges in a full day.

Minneapolis-based Cargill said it has already received the necessary permits for the facility and is working on the timeline for the start of construction and completion of the project.

“We look forward to this new business relationship,” said West Memphis Mayor William H. Johnson in a statement. “The potential economic impact that an investment of this magnitude can have on a city such as West Memphis is exciting and promising to the future of this city.”

The facility, which will be Cargill's first grain elevator in Arkansas, will employ about 15 people once it's operational in 2016, the company said.
"This business is focused on partnering with our farmer customers – there's a good base in Arkansas – and we're looking forward to working with them to move their product into the global market," Cargill spokesman Mark Klein said. "It's here in part because there's been increased production in Arkansas of corn and soybeans."

Klein said the West Memphis facility would have “no effect” on the Presidents Island corn mill plant because the “corn milling business is separate” from the planned West Memphis facility. It wasn’t immediately clear Friday morning if Memphis and Shelby County were considered for the project. Public and private sources, including Cargill, have committed around $38 million to expand Presidents Island.

Ward Wimbish, West Memphis economic development director, told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that the facility is part of a concerted effort to keep Arkansas farmers from having to send their products across the Mississippi River into nearby Memphis.
"This impact extends beyond West Memphis," Wimbish said. "This is for all over eastern Arkansas, which now has an outlet for products without having to leave the state. It saves them truck time, saves them fuel time and reduces congestion on the bridges."
About 70 million bushels of grain are produced and harvested within an hour's drive of West Memphis, Wimbish said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

PROPERTY SALES 51 334 9,936
MORTGAGES 41 330 10,946
BUILDING PERMITS 348 1,216 22,173
BANKRUPTCIES 43 348 6,311