Principal owners Terry Kleisinger and Ken DeLine of Vail, Colo., said the corn milling operation is located at the Scott City port to take advantage of corn produced in Southeast Missouri.
"We felt the quality of corn down in this area is going to give us the best product -- with a value to it, too," said Kleisinger, who is also a former goalie with the New York Rangers.
The SEMO Milling operation, which represents an investment of over $6 million, will produce corn meal, corn grits, corn flour and other food products. On a daily basis, the mill will use 24,000 bushels of corn and nearly 9 million bushels per year. DeLine pointed out the mill has the capacity to use 15 million bushels per year, and eventually it will build up to it.
DeLine, chair of SEMO Milling Board of Directors, said Kleisinger sought his opinion on the project about a year ago and his short-term help quickly evolved into something long-term after he became intrigued with the Southeast Missouri location.
"We're excited to be here," DeLine said. "We really believe that this is a great location where there is superior corn in the area."
By locating at Semo Port, the new plant will also have access to truck transportation, two major Class I railroads and the Mississippi River for water transportation, DeLine added.
"We've got two grain elevators, a fertilizer facility, a cargo dock and other ag-
related products," said Dan Overbey, executive director of Semo Regional Port Authority. "Now we've got the corn mill coming. . . . We hope to have 25-30 trucks hauling corn every day."
Semo Port is making nearly $1 million in infrastructure improvements through grants from the Missouri Department of Transportation and Missouri Department of Economic Development Community Development Block Grant plus Port matching funds, Overbey said. These funds will be used to pave part of the road to the mill, build 1,700 feet of railroad track, improve existing trackage, build stormwater drainage and extend utilities, he said.
Sikeston Mayor Mike Marshall, who is also a member of the Semo Port Board of Commissioners, said the board is delighted to have Semo Milling at the Port. The corn mill will amplify the Port's assets such as the river, rail and highway transportation, along with the quality and abundance of corn grown in the area, he said.
"And Semo Milling, just like the (future) ethanol plant in Sikeston, will highlight this part of the state, the value we have and the corn that's grown here," Marshall said. "And we think it will only draw additional businesses to this part of the country."
The 60,000-plus square-foot milling operation will be constructed in a four-
story concrete building with a 78-foot-tall mill and 124-foot-tall grain silo. It will also contain 8,000 square feet of office space.
"We've got all of our foundation in, and we're getting ready to do the structural steel on the mill building," said Dan Claycamp, SEMO Milling director of operations, about the current status of construction.
When SEMO Milling LLC opens later this year -- projected in the fall -- it will employ 45 people with expected employment in 2007 to top 60 employees. "We are very excited about the prospect and quality of people we can further attract from within the area," DeLine said.
SEMO Milling will also operate a separate bagging operation in a nearby building on the south side of the harbor, which will hire about 20 people,
Scott County Presiding Commissioner Martin Priggel, who was present with fellow commissioners for the event, said the corn milling operation is going to bring more money into Southeast Missouri's agriculture-based economy in Southeast Missouri.
"This will bring several jobs -- and good paying jobs -- and it will bring another market for the local farmers to sell their crop," said Scott County Second District Commissioner Jamie Burger.
Scott County First District Commissioner Dennis Ziegenhorn said Monday was a great day for Southeast Missouri and Scott County.
"This is a great day for me because this is one of the things I ran (for election ) on -- to bring more jobs to Scott County," Ziegenhorn said.
State Rep. Lanie Black, who was instrumental in helping the port obtain capital improvements funding from the legislature, addressed the crowd Monday in addition to Kleisinger, DeLine, Overbey and U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson.
Emerson told the crowd the mill is a great opportunity for Southeast Missouri because as the United States competes more and more in global economies, other countries have started to outproduce in some commodities, such as soybeans, and the United States needs to add value to agriculture.
"We need to give opportunities to our farmers' children," Emerson said. "Not only so they have something for which they can grow a commodity, whether its corn, rice, soybeans or whatever, but also because they have to know there's a future in agriculture, and that family farmers count."
And, hopefully, the corn mill will be able to expand and create more jobs in the future, Emerson said.
"It's going to be very important for our future, and not only for our economic future," Emerson said. "Ultimately, you'll find corn will be the key to our national security as well."