October 31, 2014

Auburn Bean and Grain building new facility in Standish area

By Kevin Bunch
Staff Writer | news@arenacindependent.com
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LINCOLN TWP. — Auburn Bean and Grain has announced plans to build a grain and agronomy facility in Lincoln Township, just south of Standish, with an eye toward completion by the summer of 2013.

Construction is scheduled to begin in the fall, and the facility will initially be able to store 2 million bushels of grain, with room to grow as business increases. The company has purchased 17 acres of land off Old M-10, with another six and a half on US-23.

Auburn Bean and Grain President Clifford Vennix said the facility would service existing and new customers that are producing more grain in the northern end of the state.

“As better, shorter-season corn and soybean varieties have become available, farmers have stretched their growing area further north in our state,” Vennix said in a press release. “We have seen grain production increase significantly over the past several years from our customers in Northern Michigan, and this facility will provide a full-service point of delivery for their grain, as ultimately supplying their crop production needs.”

“The new plant will help farmers in Northern Michigan be more competitive and make it easier for them to do business,” Vennix added. “Being located in Standish, the facility will reduce the number of miles farmers need to travel to deliver grain.”

The facility will be located a quarter mile south of Standish proper, in Lincoln Township, though it is still referred to by the company as the Standish facility.

Vennix said being close to a railroad line was a major consideration in choosing the facility’s location. He said Lake State Railway has been cooperative, and the new plant will be able to load 90-car trains with 40,000 bushels of grain per hour load out capability.

According to construction plans, the plant will be ready to receive wheat in the summer of 2013, with corn and soybeans following in the fall.

“We have always had a loyal customer base in northern Michigan,” Vennix said. “This new plant will cement that relationship and help these producers continue to grow.”

Curt Hillman, chairman of the Arenac County Economic Development Corporation, said he was contacted by members of Auburn Bean and Grain about the project about four months ago.

“So the mayor (Mark Winslow) and I sat down with the principals and had a discussion about what they wanted to do,” Hillman said. “We agreed to help any way we could.”

Hillman was able to get a meeting together to hash out some of the details to make the facility a reality. It consisted of Auburn Bean and Grain, Michigan Department of Transportation’s highway and rail sections, Lake State Railway, Dave Hertzberg of Lincoln Township, and Consumers Energy, and was hosted by the city of Standish.

“They had three locations picked out, and we told them this one was the best choice,” Hertzberg said. “”We decided the present location would work best for the area after they told us what they had in mind.”

Hertzberg said it would be a “huge complex” once completed, estimating the investment of around $6 million for the grain-hauling complex. He said it would haul grain supplies south to Flint, where they are then disbursed throughout the country. Hertzberg said the company seemed interested in expanding into fertilizer down the line, as well.

Hillman believes it will create about 10 jobs —six full-time positions, with four seasonal — in addition to the construction work required to build the facility and the associated rail spurs. However, the increased truck traffic could help bring more business activity to the area, Hillman said.

He said truck drivers could buy fuel at local gas stations, stop to eat at local restaurants, and otherwise support area businesses. It would also be better for farmers not just in Arenac County, but throughout Northeast and Northern Michigan, as they would be able to spend less money and time transporting their goods to the facility.

“It can save 40 to 45 miles one way, so that means a lot for some of those trucks in mileage not spent,” Hillman said. “It’s an economic thing for the farmers, and allows them to be more profitable.”

“It’s not a lot of jobs, but it’s still jobs,” Hillman said. “I think it shows the economy is still moving, and that’s the important thing.”

Hertzberg agreed, adding the facility would help Lincoln Township’s tax base and improve its state equalized value.

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