Heartland Corn Products seeks tax abatement for railroad siting

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Heartland Corn Products, Winthrop’s expanding ethanol plant, is seeking a $135,000 tax abatement from Sibley County over five years for the railroad track siting.

A public hearing to consider the request will be held Tuesday, Oct. 10 at 10:30 a.m. in the County Commissioners room.

The request for the public hearing was presented Tuesday by County Economic Development Director Tim Dolan.

County Board Chairman Bill Pinske questioned why this request has been presented now, when the project, in his estimation, is 90% complete.

Dean Pederson, Winthrop’s economic development director, explained that the company had originally planned to use the JOBZ program. Winthrop recently granted Heartland a $274,000 abatement for over a five year period.

Dolan explained that Heartland’s expansion will provide tremendous economic benefit to the railroad because it will add tremendous volume of cars to the track. “It will also help other businesses grow and develop,” he said.

Pederson said that Heartland Corn Products was planning to hire 14 employees with wages in the $12-$15/hour range. He added that if the county would allow a tax abatement for five years, the county would receive the tax revenue after that period.

“Don’t you agree that this should be done before the project?” Pinske said.

Commissioner Charlie Woehler said that he and Commissioner Harold Pettis will have to abstain from voting on this issue because they own shares of Heartland Corn Products. Woehler said, however, that when Heartland was first built, it received nominal assistance from Sibley County – just gravel. Woehler added that he would “rather give one [an abatement] to a company that is sound rather than one that is questionable.”

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