tru Shrimp to open facility in S.D. ahead of Luverne

The planned location of tru Shrimp’s first shrimp production facility has shifted across state lines, company spokespeople said Friday.

The Balaton-based company announced it will build its first production facility, or “harbor,” in Madison, South Dakota, instead of Luverne in Minnesota.

Michael Ziebell, tru Shrimp president and CEO, said there were issues related to the planned Luverne site that would need to be addressed before tru Shrimp could proceed there.

“It is a matter of timing,” Ziebell said. “Our timeline for capital financing and construction in 2019 does not allow adequate time to resolve the items in Luverne. Locating the first Harbor in Madison not only meets the critical components of our business model, but our timeline as well.”

The holdup on development of the Luverne site had to do with the state permit process for the shrimp production facility, tru Shrimp spokespeople said. The announcement to build the first shrimp harbor in Madison prompted some criticism from state Rep. Chris Swedzinski. Swedzinski, R-Ghent, had authored a bill to help advance the tru Shrimp project in Minnesota.

“Opportunities for economic development of this magnitude don’t come around often, and now it appears the inability of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to successfully negotiate permits is causing us to miss out on a chance to provide southwestern Minnesota with a big-time boost,” Swedzinski said in a statement Friday.

Plans to build a tru Shrimp harbor in Luverne haven’t been dropped, however. The Luverne project is postponed, while tru Shrimp continues to work to address the state regulatory issue, said Jamie Brink-Thordson, of tru Shrimp.

Construction on tru Shrimp’s first harbor, where marine shrimp will be raised in an indoor environment, is expected to break ground sometime this summer in Madison’s Lakeview Industrial Park.

“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 U.S. consumer,” Ziebell said. “Though we’re headquartered in Minnesota, tru Shrimp is truly a Midwest company. Building our first Harbor in Madison reaffirms our commitment to the broader region.”

The announcement about the Madison shrimp harbor drew some positive comments from South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard. In a news release Friday, Daugaard said, “The growing aquaculture industry, led by tru Shrimp, is not only a great fit for Madison, but also a natural fit for our state’s agricultural heritage.”

Rep. Swedzinski’s reaction was less enthusiastic. In his statement, Swedzinski said tru Shrimp’s move to South Dakota for its first harbor showed the regulatory barriers to business and industry in Minnesota.

“Minnesota’s regulatory process is so onerous that businesses are simply choosing to set up shop in other states. I’m going to point to this example every time I hear a fellow legislator talk about how we need to bring jobs to greater Minnesota,” Swedzinski said. “The easiest thing to do is to stop adding layers upon layers of new regulations and get government off the backs of job creators so they have some breathing room to operate in our state.”

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