JSDC plans working model of greenhouseA working model of the greenhouse planned for Jamestown will be constructed in Grasston, Minn., as part of efforts to gain financial backers for the project. The Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp. approved $65,000 in funding for the demonstration project during its regular meeting Monday.
By: Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun
A working model of the greenhouse planned for Jamestown will be constructed in Grasston, Minn., as part of efforts to gain financial backers for the project. The Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp. approved $65,000 in funding for the demonstration project during its regular meeting Monday.
An application to the Agriculture Products Utilization Commission of the North Dakota Agriculture Department has been made for matching funds.
The greenhouse project, now named Endless Harvest Inc., intends to raise lettuce in a $10 million facility in Jamestown. The project has received local bank financing for $6 million and is currently attempting to attract investors for the other $4 million.
“People looking to invest are very impressed with the bottom line and the project info,” said Alex Schweitzer, JSDC Board president. “But there is a $4 million gap to fill.”
Connie Ova, CEO of the JSDC, said the project had been in the works for three years.
“It’s time to fish or cut bait,” she said. “Do we want it here? We know it’s new and there are risks.”
The demonstration operation would be assembled at the Hydrosun Hydroponics, Inc., greenhouses. The lettuce grown during the demonstration would be donated to health care facilities in the region.
“In order to get the $4 million they need to show people the product,” Ova said. “We’ve got to bait the line. We need to put an investor in a car and drive them down there and they can see something growing.”
The money, along with an early $75,000 grant for a feasibility study, has been personally guaranteed by Steve Froehlich, president of Hydrosun Hydroponics.
The board also wrote off a $140,000 loan to Dakota Fresh from 2002. Dakota Fresh was a salad-processing operation located in Medina. Dakota Fresh declared bankruptcy and has not paid back any of the loans.
JSDC Board member Mark Klose asked if the loan shouldn’t be left on the books because some individuals associated with Dakota Fresh are also associated with Green Vision Group, which is promoting sugar beets for ethanol production. Green Vision group received a $1,000 grant from JSDC for a feasibility study in October 2011, and may apply for further grants or loans.
“There is no recourse to this debt,” Schweitzer said. “But it will be remembered if any party to the loan is involved in a future request.”
The board also learned of a possible request from the city of Jamestown for $75,000 for a water pumping station to serve a 75-room motel contemplated for southern Jamestown.
The city water system currently doesn’t have enough capacity to serve the motel. A new water tower is in the works but won’t be completed until fall 2013 at the earliest. The water pumping station would increase the water capacity in the area now but would be abandoned after the water tower is complete.
The JSDC Board took the issue under advisement pending the formal request from the city.
Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at 701-952-8452 or by email at email@example.com