Yesterday, Gov. Pete Ricketts joined Fremont Mayor Scott Getzschman and officials from Costco, Lincoln Premium Poultry, the Greater Omaha Economic Development Partnership, and Greater Fremont Development Council to break ground for a new state-of-the-art poultry processing plant, hatchery, and feed mill facility near Fremont.
The project has made headlines over the last year-and-a-half, since early 2016, when it was announced that a then-unnamed company was considering the Fremont area to build a new poultry processing facility.
In the spring of 2015, it was announced the Costco had selected Fremont to build the state-of-the-art facility, and Lincoln Premium Poultry, its subsidiary, would work with local growers to raise birds to supply the facility.
The new facility is set to start production on April 15, 2019, and Jonathan Luz, director of strategic planning at Costco, noted the groundbreaking is just the beginning.
"The work really has just begun. It's now time to put the vision we all share into action and results," Luz said. "I know I speak for my entire management team when I say we are eager to continue our work with the community officials at all levels, our trusted construction partners, and with everyone else involved to in order to this business something that Fremont, Nebraska and Costco can be truly proud and fortunate to be a part of together."
Big economic benefits
Gov. Pete Ricketts and other supporters of the project have pointed out the significant economic benefits the project will bring.
Ricketts noted with the $300 million investment in the facility, there will be roughly 800 jobs created, from production and maintenance to IT and management.
There will also be a network of about 120 farmers in a 12-county area – most of them raising broilers to supply the facility's needs to process 2 million chickens a week. The rest will raise pullets and laying hens to produce chicks to raise as broilers. "One hundred twenty farmers will be able to diversify their revenue stream by putting up these barns. That's a big deal," Ricketts said. "It's a big deal because it creates another income stream for our farmers and certainly one of the things we've seen with low commodity prices is that is going to be its welcome news for the area. It will also create a market for their corn and soybean meal."
About 350,000 bushels of corn and 3,000 tons of soybean meal will be needed every week to feed the poultry.
Ricketts added the project will have a $1.2 billion economic impact on the state every year – that's about 1% of the state's current gross state product.
In 2016, Site Selection Magazine awarded Ricketts the Site Selection Governor's Cup due to Nebraska having the most economic development projects per capita of any state in the nation. "In fact, we had more projects than North Dakota, South Dakota and Kansas combined," Ricketts said. "We want to build on that momentum. That's why we want to continue to have a customer service organization in the state of Nebraska to build a team to be able to help serve the companies like Costco and Lincoln Premium Poultry."
Work to be done
The project has garnered plenty of attention since its announcement in early 2016, and that has included supporters and detractors. Fremont Mayor Scott Getzschman noted throughout the last year and a half, public hearings have been a big part of the process. "Because of this testimony and considerable due diligence by Costco and Lincoln Premium Poultry, the citizens of Fremont can rest assured this will be a safe and environmentally friendly project," Getzschman said.
The building's first day of operation is set for April 15, 2019, but Getzschman noted there's a lot to be done before then. The City of Fremont is working with the Nebraska Department of Roads to develop the new Fremont Southeast Beltway, a four-mile divided expressway, which is expected to help improve traffic to and from the facility. In addition, the City of Fremont is working with the Nebraska Department of Labor to secure a workforce for Costco and Lincoln Premium Poultry, as well as existing businesses in Fremont.
"We are diligently working on necessary infrastructure to ensure this building has necessary power, gas and sewer capacity required for the first day of production, April 15, 2019," Getzschman said. "Fremont could not ask for a better corporate partner than Costco and Lincoln Premium poultry. They are dedicated to ensure a successful project not only for today but for many years to come. They are changing the poultry landscape not only nationwide, but worldwide."