October 24, 2014

Auburn Bean & Grain expects construction to be done in July

Lincoln board signs off on tax abatement

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LINCOLN TWP. — Cliff Vennix, president of Auburn Bean & Grain, gave an update on the new storage and shipping facility the company is constructing off of US-23 at Lincoln Township’s board meeting Jan. 10, where he said he is aiming for a July 13 completion date.

The construction of the office area to the new facility is practically complete, he said, as the electricians have finished their work and the heating is up and running, and the drywall is currently in and curing.

Work on the rest of the facility is continuing, he said. Once finished, the facility will include unloading pits, two storage tanks capable of holding 730,000 bushels each, wet and dry grain elevators, grain cleaning equipment, and a number of conveyors and elevators. Heating is being installed in one warehouse so the company can host larger meetings, he added.

“Our well is in, and the scale is in,” Vennix said. “We’re waiting on (the Michigan Department of Transportation) to tell us where we can put in our road.”

Auburn Bean & Grain is requesting a permit to install a deceleration lane, potentially along US-23 so traffic will not be badly affected by trucks coming in.

He added that he is still waiting on the permits from the Arenac County Building Department to put up some of the structures, though he believes there are no issues with any of them.

Currently the plant is set up to provide four or five jobs year-round, Vennix said, with at least two additional staffers during the harvest season. It is using new automated monitoring devices to watch for breakdowns on the line, and should be able to get 350 bushels of grain an hour going out to train cars — all told, he expects 90 cars will be getting filled every eight hours.

The train cars will be brought to a loading area via a rail spur, still under construction, where they will get loaded and moved elsewhere on the train track. Vennix said the location of the facility means that none of the train lines will cross roads on the portions they are using, so it should not have any effect on traffic.

He said the facility also has room to grow, and spoke of a potential phase two down the line: if his projected increase in farming yields follows through, he said the amount of grain he would be handling would be jumping up several percentage points, requiring another massive storage tank and other expansions.

“We’ve got to take care of our customers,” Vennix said. “We had atrocious lines last summer in Auburn, and I don’t want to do that again.”

The building and machinery costs combined have come out to $9.6 million, a greater amount than the estimated $7 million initially projected.

As a result of the higher costs, Auburn Bean & Grain has sought a 12-year, 150-percent tax abatement from the township, which the board officially approved during the Jan. 10 meeting. It had initially brought up getting the abatement in August, but took longer than anticipated to get all the documentation necessary to apply for it.

The abatement will allow the company to reduce its tax load over time on new construction in exchange for fulfilling particular requirements, such as job creation. Since the project is new, Lincoln Township will still be getting an increase in its tax base.

The facility is located between US-23 and Old M-10, a quarter-mile south of Standish.

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