WAUPUN, Wis. – United Cooperative and the city of Waupun finalized a developer’s agreement June 14 for a $100 million investment. The investment is to eventually include a soybean-processing facility in the Waupun Industrial Park on the city’s southwest side.

“The specific negotiation points have been in play and have been worked on over the last six months,” said Kathy Schlieve, Waupun City Administrator and director of economic development. “On May 31 we presented the full terms of the deal of this project to you. We published all that information to our website. There were numerous articles published in the newspaper all indicating that if people had questions or comments they should reach out and contact me. I did get two comments and both were in support of the project.”

Alderpersons shared concerns about traffic volume, which will be particularly heavy during soybean harvest. Schlieve said in 2021 the city worked with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to complete an investigative review. Preliminary numbers indicated the proposed road design would be adequate to support the development’s needs.

“As we’ve gotten smarter about the project those numbers have been adjusted and they’re up slightly,” Schlieve said. “We have met with the DOT and they are still comfortable with what we’re proposing. As traffic grows and maybe more sites get developed we’re going to continue to monitor that. There are shared costs that will be established through this agreement as outlined.”

Alderman Mike Matoushek questioned whether the speed limit on Wisconsin Highway 26 should be reduced to accommodate the greater volume. Schlieve said the limit is not under city control, but that a change may be requested if or when it’s needed.

Dave Cramer, United Cooperative president and CEO, had earlier shared that his company and its subsidiaries had $1.4 billion in sales this past year. The majority of the business is in grain and grain hauling, followed by agronomy and feed. The feed portion is estimated at $242 million. Easy highway and rail access in Waupun are a benefit; rail access will help reduce the need for over-the-road hauling.

Along with the new Waupun facility, United Cooperative has six other feed locations and 20 grain locations placed throughout Wisconsin, including in Beaver Dam and Hartford. At those locations the cooperative manufactures and sells feed and grain products as well as offers services.

In addition to the feed and grain expansion, the third phase of the Waupun construction project will be a soybean-crushing and -processing facility. Cramer said when operational the plant will crush 7.5 million bushels of soybeans annually.

“This plant will supply both soybean meal and soy oil, and bring the surrounding counties into a global ag economy,” he said.

United Cooperative stated recently, “United Cooperative is investing in the future for our patrons and the agriculture community. United Cooperative’s three-phase expansion project will create state-of-the-art manufacturing capabilities, marketing opportunities and technology advancements to meet the demands of Wisconsin’s agricultural landscape.”

Facilities are planned to be built on a 67.4-acre site, with rail spurs and vehicle access off an extension of Wilson Drive and Shaler Drive, west of Wisconsin Highway 26. The total valuation of the completed facility is set at a minimum guarantee of $33 million during the 20-year life of the Tax Increment Financing agreement with the city. Land will be purchased for $20,000 per acre totaling $1.3 million. Total cost for the city is anticipated at $9.4 million. Economic Development Grant Funds of $2.5 million are being sought to help defray the city’s costs.

The completed facility is intended to generate a projected minimum of $13 million for the city of Waupun across 20 years, and should continue to support the tax base in following years. Payments in lieu of taxes will be required from United Cooperative in the event that taxes generated are insufficient to cover the city’s debt service for the development. Tax Increment Financing allows the city to pay its share of the costs with a minimal impact on its finances.

The facility, to be completed in 2025, is intended to employ 50 full-time skilled and operations-management positions and other workers. The total annual payroll is estimated at $3 million.

“They’ll be working around the clock to get the first section in before the frost arrives,” Schlieve said. “There’s not much time to waste. As you know costs are going up and any delays only accelerate the total cost on the project.”

Council approval was unanimous.

“I would like to express my thanks to the mayor and the common council,” said Dan Vande Zande, city attorney. “You have been very helpful in this process. I especially want to thank Dave Cramer of United Cooperative; welcome to the city of Waupun. We expect and hope that we’ll have a good working relationship. We’ve got some excellent staff and we hope to be responsive to the co-op’s needs. I also want to thank Kathy (Schlieve). It has been a long haul. She has done an outstanding job and I don’t think this project would have happened without her.”

Schlieve received a strong round of applause.

“This has been a labor of love,” she said. “It actually began the first day I got on the job in 2016. Thank you for all of the applause and praise but ultimately it took all of us to make this work.”

Construction will begin as soon as possible, Cramer said.

“We’re very happy with the outcome,” he said. “We’ll move forward and are eager to get it up and running in the next 24 months.”

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Originally published on agupdate.com, part of the TownNews Content Exchange.