Celebrating CJ, Cargill

Standing in the shadow of the Cargill and CJ Bio America plants Tuesday afternoon, white-gloved dignitaries snipped a red ribbon to formally mark the debut of the facilities that promise jobs, better prices for farm products and future growth in Webster County.

Nearly 300 people attended the grand opening celebration for the plants, which actually began operating last fall.

The partnerships that led to the establishment of the plants were repeatedly praised by company leaders and government officials who spoke during the event.

”Our success is the result of creating long-term partnerships with our customers and other stakeholders,” said Dave MacLennan, the president and chief executive officer of Cargill.

”Our investment in this biorefinery is a great example as we continue to work with the state, the city and our farmer customers, CJ and our employees to create a powerful partnership for the future,” he added.

Kyung-Shik Sohn, the chairman of CJ Group, the South Korean parent company of CJ Bio America, called the Tuesday ceremony an ”auspicious event.”

”Today will be recorded as a historic day for CJ Group,” he said. ”By opening the Fort Dodge plant it is becoming the largest producer of lysine in the global market.”

Lysine, an amino acid added to livestock feed, is the primary product of the CJ Bio America plant. The plant is intended to produce 100,000 metric tons of lysine annually, but so far it has been running at a pace that would produce 110,000 metric tons.

It is the largest lysine plant in the world, according to company officials.

”We expect steady growth for the demand for lysine in coming years,” Sohn said.

MacLennan predicted future growth for the plants that are next to each other in the ag industrial park called Iowa’s Crossroads of Global Innovation.

”This Fort Dodge biorefinery campus is an investment in the future of agriculture,” he said. ”We and CJ will harness our investments in biotechnology and create value-added products for our customers. This investment will continue to create jobs in Iowa, reinvestment in the local community and help connect our farmer customers to our global customers.”

Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, who both traveled to Seoul, South Korea, in 2011 to visit executives of CJ Group and CJ CheilJedang Corp., joined Tuesday’s grand opening celebration.

”We are excited about this complex,” Branstad said. ”We know from past history that the future is going to be very bright.”

The governor said that Cargill built very similar wet-corn milling facilities in Eddyville and Blair, Neb., that became the anchors of sprawling complexes employing thousands of people.

”We think Fort Dodge is even going to be better than those two,” Branstad said.

He acknowledged Cargill’s long history in Iowa and welcomed CJ Bio America to the state.

”We’re proud to welcome new companies to our state and we’re especially proud when we have a company of the caliber of CJ join the Iowa business climate,” he said.

”Iowa offers the best of both worlds,” he added. ”We’re small enough to know each other and work together, but despite our small size we are a global player.”

Reynolds said the new plants reflect the state’s commitment to agriculture and its residents’ reputation for hard work and ingenuity.

”We can’t wait to help you grow,” she said.

Sang-II Kim, South Korea’s consul general based in Chicago, Ill., said Cargill and CJ Bio America will ”serve as role models of Korean and American company cooperation.”

He added that he believes there are more opportunities for cooperation between his country and Iowa.

Dennis Plautz, the chief executive officer of the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance, was the master of ceremonies at the event.

”To CJ and Cargill working with your people has been very enjoyable to say nothing of the economic value you’re bringing to our region,” he said. ”You’ve also brought partnerships, friendships and community involvement that are really valued and appreciated.”

Before the ribbon-cutting ceremony, visitors were given tours of both plants by bus.