Marshall picked for tru Shrimp operations

MARSHALL — Marshall will play a major role in the start of a planned shrimp production industry in Minnesota, representatives of tru Shrimp said Wednesday. This week tru Shrimp announced its intent to build a shrimp hatchery in Marshall, which will help serve as the hub of a new aquaculture business.

In addition to building the hatchery, tru Shrimp will renovate a vacant USDA-approved processing facility in Marshall, to prepare shrimp for consumption.

“The last 60 days have been very exciting, as our plans have come together,” said Michael Ziebell, president and CEO of tru Shrimp. Ziebell said there are a number of factors that made Marshall a good choice for the hub of tru Shrimp’s industry. “There’s land available, and we believe we’ll be able to get the staff we need” to operate the hatchery, he said. The Marshall location will also put the shrimp hatchery close to tru Shrimp’s research facilities in Balaton.

The announcement for the Marshall hatchery came alongside news that tru Shrimp intends to build a more than $50 million shrimp production facility in Luverne, and a training facility in Balaton.

Ziebell estimated that the shrimp hatchery would have about a 40,000 square-foot facility in Marshall. It could take a staff of up to 20 people to operate it. The hatchery would be biosecure, to help keep the shrimp disease-free, and cut down on the need for antibiotics, Ziebell said.

Having the hub of tru Shrimp’s industry in Marshall will help generate additional high-skilled jobs in Marshall, said area Economic Development Authority Director Cal Brink.

“As tru Shrimp continues to grow and develop, Marshall will also grow,” Brink said in a news release. “It’s a rare opportunity to become the center of a new source of protein production. Immediate construction of the shrimp hatchery and renovation of an existing processing facility is a significant economic driver for Marshall.”

Building a shrimp harbor in Luverne will also be a plus for the economy in southwest Minnesota. According to an economic impact study conducted by the University of Minnesota, construction of a single nine-acre shrimp harbor would contribute more than $48 million to the economy.

Officials from the Lewis & Clark Regional Water System, which started supplying water to Luverne in 2016, also had positive things to say about the project.

“One of the main reasons we are constructing this tri-state water project is to provide the member communities and rural water systems with expanded economic development opportunities, particularly when it comes to value-added agriculture, so we couldn’t be more pleased with this announcement,” Lewis & Clark Board Chairman Red Arndt said in a Wednesday news release. Arndt said he hoped the news of the shrimp harbor coming to Luverne would provide momentum to connect the remaining members of the Lewis & Clark system. Currently, 13 of the system’s 20 members are connected.

Tru Shrimp, an affiliate of Ralco, has been working for more than a year on a new method of indoor shrimp farming. Establishing the headquarters and first production center of a new aquaculture industry would not have been possible without support from many sources, Ziebell said. Ralco and its leaders Brian Knochenmus and Jon Knochenmus, Minnesota communities, and even the Minnesota Legislature have all supported the project.

Construction for the shrimp hatchery, training facility and processing facility could start as soon as this year, Ziebell said.

“I’d like to see us break ground this year yet,” he said. The hatchery would need to be established before the first shrimp harbor can go into production. Having the processing facilities ready to go will also be key. The Balaton training facility alone is capable of producing 64,000 pounds of shrimp a year, Ziebell said.