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FULL STORY: trū Shrimp steps back from plans to build shrimp harbor in Luverne

LUVERNE — Less than three months after Balaton-based trū Shrimp Company reaffirmed its commitment to build its first ever shrimp harbor in Luverne, the company officially announced Friday its plans to temporarily pull out of the southwest Minnesota community to instead build the first shrimp harbor across the border, in Madison, S.D.

Michael Ziebell, trū Shrimp’s president and CEO, stated in a press release issued Friday that the company encountered a state regulatory challenge that could not be addressed in a timeframe needed to meet trū Shrimp’s commercialization goals.

“There are several reasons why we are building our initial harbor in South Dakota, but, importantly, this location immediately provides the economic and regulatory conditions that allow us to pursue our goals,” Ziebell said.

Luverne Mayor Patrick Baustian released the following statement following the tru-Shrimp announcement: “Although the City of Luverne is disappointed in the delay of constructing the Luverne Bay Harbor, we are committed to working alongside trū Shrimp and the State of Minnesota to shape public policies to reduce state regulatory roadblocks. The City of Luverne stands ready to facilitate the construction of the second trū Shrimp harbor in Luverne in three years.

“The State of Minnesota has invested $1.982 million in public infrastructure to support the Luverne Bay Harbor. We will continue to assist trū Shrimp by working with the State of Minnesota to support the development of this industry in Luverne and the State of Minnesota.”

trū Shrimp had planned to break ground this summer on a $48 million shrimp harbor on a 67-acre lot in Luverne’s Industrial Park near Interstate 90. Construction was estimated at two years.

For the city of Luverne, trū Shrimp’s first harbor project would have created an estimated 74 full-time equivalent jobs in the community.

Those jobs and company investment, are now going across the border.

“South Dakota is pleased to welcome its newest corporate citizen, trū Shrimp, to Madison,” said South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard in the press release issued by trū Shrimp. “The growing aquaculture industry, led by trū Shrimp, is not only a great fit for Madison, but also a natural fit for our state’s agricultural heritage. Once again, South Dakota’s sensible regulatory approach and excellent business climate has proven a key advantage for businesses to expand and thrive.”

“trū Shrimp is going to be an excellent addition to Madison,” added Mike Malone, president of the Lake Area Improvement Corporation. “They are an outstanding company with Midwestern values and an environmental focus. We are excited to bring this opportunity to the region.”

Construction is expected to break ground this summer in Madison’s Lakeview Industrial Park, with the exact timeline pending the completion of permitting and financing, noted trū Shrimp.

“We are excited to be working with the City of Madison and the Lake Area Improvement Corporation in bringing safe and sustainable shrimp to the US consumer,” said Ziebell. “Though we’re headquartered in Minnesota, trū Shrimp is truly a Midwest company. Building our first Harbor in Madison reaffirms our commitment to the broader region.”

District 22 Sen. Bill Weber, R-Luverne, is optimistic that that “broader region” will eventually include Luverne. He noted that trū Shrimp has approximately $800,000 of its own money tied up in the Luverne project already.

“At this point, the official position is it’s a postponement,” Weber said. “The goal is to build there, but we’re going to have to work through a specific MPCA (Minnesota Pollution Control Agency) rule, which quite frankly isn’t a rule they have to worry about in Iowa and South Dakota.”

Weber explained that he has asked for further information from trū Shrimp’s engineers in order to learn more about what the company needs specifically in order to complete the project. He added that the regulations pertain to the flow of electricity through water.

“With the MPCA requirements, it’s impossible for them (trū Shrimp) to get a plan in place that will allow them to meet the timeline that they want,” Weber said. “It’s very disappointing, and I think we always recognized the business climate has given South Dakota an edge, but they had been dedicated to locating in Minnesota — at least for their original plan.

The goal to have a shrimp harbor remains, stressed Weber, but “this issue is going to have to be dealt with” during the upcoming legislative session, he said.

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