By Phyllis Zorn, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Officials of Northstar Agri Industries, the company looking to build a canola processing plant in Enid, met with canola growers, farmers contemplating growing canola, and city and business officials at Convention Hall Thursday evening, after an educational forum on growing the crop.
The company also released renderings of its canola plant during at a reception following Canola College, an educational forum for canola growers and those interested in learning about growing canola.
Neil Juhnke, president and chief of operations for Northstar Agri Industries, said the company, which has been working with Enid Regional Development Alliance in the effort to bring the canola processing plant to Enid, met with a number of people Thursday.
“Our company’s commitment is firm enough to be spending copious amounts of money on due diligence,” Juhnke said.
Northstar has been getting air and water-quality permits, local permits, zoning permits, working with utility providers and the like toward building the canola processing plant, anticipated to be operational by March 2015.
Enid city commissioners in January approved a tax increment finance district to provide incentives for the canola plant project. The TIF is expected to raise up to $27 million over 25 years, including up to $15 million as incentives for Northstar and $12 million to compensate the city for infrastructure improvements to support the plant.
Under the TIF, all tax-receiving entities would continue to receive ad valorem revenue at the current assessed value of the 399 acres on which the plant will be built, plus 10 percent of any increase in ad valorem revenue due to the plant’s development over the next 25 years.
Northstar expects to employ 55 workers in Enid with an annual payroll of $3.75 million.
Between canola oil and canola meal, the United States consumes canola from 8 million acres per year, Juhnke said.
“Most of that is imported from Canada,” Juhnke said.
The proposed plant at Enid would produce 60 percent canola meal, used for livestock feed, and 40 percent canola oil, used for cooking, Juhnke said.
Brent Kisling, executive director of Enid Regional Development, said the process of having permits approved will take some time.
“That will certainly go throughout the summer,” Kisling said.
Most likely, the actual building of the plant can begin soon afterward, and shipments of canola will start happening in March 2015, Kisling said.
“Everything is progressing on schedule, as we expect it,” Kisling said.
Jeff Scott, president of Great Plains Canola Association, said Canola College, hosted by GPCA, Oklahoma State University Extension Service and Kansas State University Extension, had a turnout of close to 350 people.
“We had a lot of people who have never grown canola,” Scott said. “We ran the gamut to those who have grown canola for a lot of years.”