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First trū Shrimp hatchery to be in Luverne

BALATON -- Less than five months after The tr? Shrimp Company announced plans to build its first shrimp harbor in Luverne's industrial park, the Balaton-based business announced Wednesday it now intends to build its first hatchery in Luverne as well.

Tru Shrimp is a company that wants to produce a large part of the U.S. shrimp market. (Submitted photo)
The tru Shrimp Company announced Wednesday it will build its first shrimp hatchery in Luverne, adjacent to the shrimp harbor it announced it would build early this summer. (Special to The Globe)

BALATON - Less than five months after The trū Shrimp Company announced plans to build its first shrimp harbor in Luverne’s industrial park, the Balaton-based business announced Wednesday it now intends to build its first hatchery in Luverne as well.

The result represents a $100 million investment in the community. The two operations will share a campus, and be known as Luverne Bay Harbor and Luverne Cove Hatchery.

Michael Ziebell, president and CEO of trū Shrimp, said the decision to build the first hatchery in Luverne - instead of its original proposal for it to be located in Marshall - came after an engineering and process breakthrough that enables the hatchery and the harbor to share the same water treatment facility.

The 60-acre Luverne campus near Interstate 90 will house a 42,000-square-foot hatchery, a free-standing water treatment facility and an enclosed nine-acre Luverne Bay Harbor.
“Every day we are learning and every day we challenge assumptions,” said trū Shrimp board chairman Brian Knochenmus. “Previously we could not house the hatchery and harbor near each other because of biosecurity concerns. We care for these shrimp, and the less stress they are under the healthier they remain. This is a big leap forward for efficiency and the welfare of each trū Shrimp.”
Luverne Cove Hatchery will provide for spawning and house larviculture tanks where small post larvae shrimp grow until they are mature enough to be transferred to a harbor. The hatchery will be able to raise 2 million post-larvae (baby shrimp) annually, which is enough to supply two fully operational harbors and provides future redundancy.

Luverne Cove Hatchery is projected to employ 20 people; the harbor will employ 60.

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Luverne Mayor Pat Baustian said Wednesday morning he’s ecstatic trū Shrimp chose to locate its first shrimp hatchery in the community.

“When we met with trū Shrimp Systems back when we were designated to get the harbor, we knew we had the industrial park space to accommodate growth for them,” Baustian said. “Going into this, we made it fully aware to trū Shrimp that we are standing by for acceptance of their future growth.”

City officials met with trū Shrimp on Monday and learned of the company’s desire to locate its shrimp hatchery in Luverne. With that meeting, the project was fast-tracked, Baustian said.

In fact, crews were at the site Monday to take soil borings to plan for the construction project. Dirt work will begin next spring for construction of the hatchery and wastewater treatment facility, with the harbor also targeted for 2018 construction.

“Next spring will be the tsunami of building in our industrial park,” Baustian said.

Prep work In preparation for Luverne Cove Hatchery and Luverne Bay Harbor, the city of Luverne anticipates a busy winter getting contracts lined up for construction of infrastructure in its industrial park and a pair of housing developments to support the new jobs.

“Today, our industrial park is a cornfield and within the next 12 to 18 months, we’ll see about 60 acres going to the hatchery and the harbor and another 15 acres going for the armory,” said Holly Sammons, director of the Luverne Economic Development Authority. “We’re just glad we have the property to allow for all (of trū Shrimp’s) growth needs now and in the future.”

Sammons said trū Shrimp’s investment in Luverne will help the city get infrastructure built in the industrial park.

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“It’s easy to justify it when you have a $100 million investment coming to your community,” she said.

The placement of infrastructure - water, sewer, streets, curbs and gutters - are hoped to lure others to the city’s industrial park. Between 50 and 60 acres have yet to be designated for development, Baustian said.

“Hopefully it spurs development for other smaller businesses and smaller industries to locate here (knowing) we have the land available and the utilities and infrastructure in place to continue our growth,” Sammons added.

Meanwhile, plans are also underway for a couple of new housing initiatives in the city. A new TIF district on U.S. 75 (the site of the former Sharkee’s building) is slated for mixed-use development, including shops and market-rate apartment rentals.

“We are also developing property on the west side of town, south of Dodge Street near the school,” Sammons said. “That’s another residential subdivision that can hopefully accommodate a variety of housing needs, whether it’s twin homes, town homes, triplexes, single-story, luxury executive family lots. We’re just hoping to offer a good mix to meet our demand.”

Aside from construction projects, Sammons said the community - like many others across Greater Minnesota - struggles to meet demands for daycare.

“We’re working with leaders in that industry to continue to evaluate and seek solutions to see if we can meet that demand in our community,” she said. “Luverne offers a great quality of life from excellent school system to excellent health care … we just have a lot of positive energy moving in the right direction, and we hope to continue that for years to come.”

Baustian commended a progressive council, hard-working economic development board, strong city staff and collaborations with Rock County commissioners for their team work involved in bringing trū Shrimp to town.

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Poised for growth trū Shrimp, an affiliate of Ralco, will continue to expand in Marshall and Balaton. Ralco is consolidating executive and support services within leased office space in Marshall, which remains its headquarters. trū Shrimp is constructing Balaton Bay Reef Training and Engineering Center, a multi-million-dollar expansion in Balaton.

The city of Marshall is working diligently to lay the groundwork for trū Shrimp facilities both with Commerce Park development and improvements to the municipal water systems.
“We recognize the investment that Marshall and its economic development leadership has made into Commerce Park industrial area, and we intend to utilize the area. Marshall is in our plans for future expansion of trū Shrimp.” Knochenmus said.
The trū Shrimp Company strives to supply the world with safe, natural and abundant shrimp.

“What we are building today is impacting people’s lives now and will continue to impact thousands well into the future,” Ziebell said. “Our choices demonstrate the care we provide for the shrimp we raise, the people we employ and the communities we call home. Holding each in the highest regard is essential to creating the conditions for the safest, cleanest and best tasting shrimp.”

Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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