The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local news

September 12, 2013

ERDA gives first funds OK for canola plant

ENID, Okla. — Enid Regional Development Alliance approved the first public money to help bring a canola plant to Enid.

Northstar Agri Industries is building its second canola processing plant in the United States, a project that will cost about $200 million to build.

The city of Enid has agreed to provide a $27 million investment in the project by freezing property taxes at current levels before construction begins.

Officials with Northstar said in order for the project to advance on schedule, Enid will need to start holding up its part of the bargain. Among that $27 million incentive is $12 million allocated for infrastructure updates.

Northstar is asking the city to replace 66th Street for a length of 1.5 miles, and extend city water and wastewater service four miles to the site, which will be north of U.S. 412 and east of 66th.

Then on Sept. 5, Northstar flew in its construction team and engineers to meet with city staff to lay out a timeline for construction. If all goes well, work should begin in the spring of 2014 and finish 12 to 18 months later.

The first step in the city’s infrastructure improvements is to hire a project manager, said Enid Regional Development Alliance Executive Director Brent Kisling.

Retaining the project manager will cost about $414,500. City officials have asked ERDA to absorb half of that cost, because spending money before work on the canola plant begins is considered “at-risk,” Kisling said.

As they met before a board retreat Thursday, ERDA members authorized spending $207,250. This amount would be refunded to the agency by the city at a later point, possibly in a year’s time, ERDA said in a partnership proposal introduced Thursday.

“We’re excited that this project is getting started,” Kisling said. “And we as a community have got to start our process to develop the infrastructure to support” Northstar.

A timeline released by ERDA shows the next benchmark for the city’s part is purchase of engineering design services. That will cost $600,000.

Purchasing rights of way and the actual construction, costing more than $10 million, should be completed by September 2014.

Further inspections and other costs will push the price tag of the infrastructure update up another million dollars.

Enid City Commission is expected to take its own vote on allocating funds for a project manager at its Sept. 17 regular meeting.

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