Launch Of Fertilizer Operation Celebrated in Huntington County

By Scott Sarvay
By Jeff Neumeyer

April 17, 2012 Updated Nov 26, 2013 at 4:48 AM EDT

HUNTINGTON, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) - An agribusiness start-up in Huntington County got a grand welcome Tuesday, despite the fact it's supporting a modest payroll at best.

If you judge the new Helena Chemical Company operation purely on its impact to the local job market, you might question what all the fuss was about.

But there are some other things to be excited about regarding the project.

Lt. Governor Becky Skillman was among those who took part in a ribbon-cutting, signifying the launch of the new Helena Chemical terminal.

The operation will blend dry and liquid fertilizers for distribution to 13 retail locations in Indiana, Ohio and Michigan, helping farmers in this area.

The $15-million investment is already generating $37,000 in annual property tax revenue for Huntington County, and that should grow in the next couple of years.

Right now, Helena has just 9 employees on staff.

Randy Parman/Helena Chemical Company: " We think that will grow to 15 plus over the next year or so, and this facility will feed our other locations in the state."

Mayor Brooks Fetters/(R) Huntington: " They're great jobs, the pay scale is great. There are still larger corporations that we've been able to attract here in Huntington."

Mayor Fetters specifically cited CSP, an auto parts maker, which is said to be creating more than 300 jobs for Huntington County.

City and county funds were spent to improve rail lines, roads, and water and sewer service to the operation.

But in exchange, the company gave up tax abatements, so local government's investment is supposed to be recouped in about three years.

The land where the terminal is situated was envisioned for a manufacturing plant some twenty years ago.

That project fell through.

Within the past five years, residents near the property protested a proposed ethanol plant that also never got off the ground.

The fertilizer handling operation also was greeted with some suspicion by neighbors.

Huntington County Commissioner Tom Wall says the company confronted the issue head-on, inviting residents to share their concerns at informational meetings.

Wall says that served to reduce opposition.

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