Lettuce project investment: Endless Harvest asks JSDC Executive Board for $2 million loanOrganizers of Endless Harvest, the controlled-environment agriculture lettuce project planned for Jamestown, are looking for $2 million in loans from local development agencies to get the project off the ground.
By: Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun
Organizers of Endless Harvest, the controlled-environment agriculture lettuce project planned for Jamestown, are looking for $2 million in loans from local development agencies to get the project off the ground.
Endless Harvest would construct a greenhouse near Jamestown to grow lettuce for the Northern Plains market. Lance Brower, a consultant for Endless Harvest, presented an update on the plans and the request for funding at the Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp. Executive Board meeting Monday.
“We could raise lettuce during the first phase at about 47 cents per head,” Brower said. “We could have sold that lettuce wholesale in 2011 for $1.31 per head.”
Brower said the first phase of the project would include an administrative and classroom building, living quarters and a 2.7-acre greenhouse where lettuce would be grown. Through phased expansion, the project would ultimately include 21.6 acres of greenhouse space and furnish about 45 percent of the lettuce consumed in North Dakota and Minnesota, according to Brower.
Costs for the project’s first phase were pegged at about $12 million, Brower said. Construction of additional phases would be funded through profits from the project’s early stages.
Endless Harvest has secured about $10 million in loans from the Small Business Administration, an unnamed local bank and the Bank of North Dakota, Brower said.
Brower asked the JSDC to consider a loan of about $2 million. This prompted questions from Jamestown Mayor Katie Andersen.
“If it (Endless Harvest) is capable of standing on its own why would you need this investment?” she said. “If it would be that profitable, why do you need help?”
Brower said a local investment from the JSDC would help maximize the impact of the project locally.
“Out-of-state investors would draw money out of the community reducing the economic impact in the area,” he said.
Connie Ova, CEO of JSDC, said a combination of loans from the JSDC and South Central Dakota Regional Council might be possible.
“It is not a grant but a loan,” Ova said. “We are in the process of determining the best fit for the project.”
Steve Froehlich, one Endless Harvest project developers, said a local investment would guarantee local control.
“There are a lot of ways we can get this funding,” he said. “This is your project. If you want to retain it, you can fund it.”
Alex Schweitzer, chairman of the JSDC Executive Board, delayed further action until a formal application for assistance was submitted by Endless Harvest.
In other busines, the board recognized Schweitzer for his years of service as a board member and chairman.
Schweitzer is stepping down from the JSDC Board because of expansion of his duties for the North Dakota Department of Human Services. He has recently undertaken management responsibilities for the eight regional human services centers as well as his previous duties as North Dakota State Hospital administrator.
“It is with deep regrets that I’m going to have to stop doing this,” he said. “But I have to face the reality of work and family.”
Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at 701-952-8452 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org