Nitrogen plant loan from gets early OK from Grand Forks

Map depicting proposed site of Northern Plains Nitrogen’s $1.5 billion fertilizer plant.

Story by John Hageman

The Grand Forks Growth Fund Committee gave preliminary approval Wednesday for a $250,000 loan to a company planning a large fertilizer plant near the city.
Northern Plains Nitrogen will use the loan and other financing to buy 320 acres northwest of Grand Forks for $1.7 million. Company representatives plan on breaking ground in 2015 and starting production in 2017.

The $1.5 billion plant will employ 135 workers when it is in operation.

Calling a “daunting project,” Neil Doty, a Fargo-based advisor to NPN, explained that a number of materials will be made at the plant. A proposal outline provided by city staff states the plant will produce as much as 2,200 tons of ammonia per day, and more than 600,000 tons of nitrogen annually.

“It’s not just making just one item … but it’s planned to make a number of items,” Doty said. “So it would be a series of factories within one factory.”

The Growth Fund loan will be combined with an $850,000 bank loan, a $250,000 North Dakota Development Fund loan and $350,000 of the company’s equity.

Darin Anderson, president of the managing partners for NPN, said last week they anticipated closing on the land by the end of 2013. The plant will be located near the city’s wastewater lagoons northwest of Grand Forks.

City Council member Bret Weber said the project seemed like “an appropriate use” of the Growth Fund, but wondered if its success depended on the committee approving the loan.

“The project has momentum,” Doty answered.

The city’s Jobs Development Authority will hold a public hearing and consider approving the loan Oct. 21.

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