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Fortigen update given

Signal Editor

Plans to ultimately employ 50 full-time people. A half-dozen employees already looking to purchase homes in the area. Filling the fertilizer needs of local grain producers.  Fostering additional spin-off businesses.
Fortigen President Josh Westling was glad to share his company’s progress with a group of local seniors, businessmen and city officials on March 15 at the Geneva Senior Center.
Westling told the group that operations at Fortigen have begun and currently a combination of ammonia being trucked in (from Canada) and produced on site is taking place.  Fortigen plans to produce 100 tons of ammonia a day.  The storage tank on site can hold 20,000 tons.  Farmers Cooperative/Dorchester will have 15 drivers trucking out the ammonia once it goes out.  Farmers Cooperative/Dorchester will purchase 100 percent of the fertilizer products made in Geneva. The coop also has a small ownership portion of the plant.
“We wanted to make a product for a customer,” Westling said.  “To have one partner, one partner is much easier to manage. We look forward to the fall when we will be able to produce more product for our local farmers.”
He said hydrogen has been being produced at Fortigen for quite some time.  He also noted the plant has passed all inspections.
“We’re tuning it testing a car,” Westling said.  “Just fine-tuning it at this point.”
He noted that more security is being added to the plant and it will become a fully-gated, monitored facility in the near future.  A siren-signalling program is also up and running at the plant.
Currently, Fortigen employs 35 full-time people.  Most employees make in the $35,000 range.
“These are good, real jobs,” Westling said.  “We’re bringing in actual, solid jobs into the community.”
He also noted that several workers already live in Geneva and Fillmore County, but he could see another half dozen, or so, move to Geneva if housing was available.
“We have some living out of town who would like to live in Geneva,” Westling said.  “I would say there’s three to five people who would buy houses here if they were available. We want to continue to grow this community.”
And this number will surely grow with the Fortigen expansion plans.  This summer, Fortigen plans to break ground on a second ammonia plant, DEF (diesel exhaust fluid) and Urea.  Burns & McDonald is the new contractor for Phases 2-4.  Estimated completion date for these phases is July of 2020.
The expansion will require a minimum of 15 more employees, Westling said.
“This second phase is a significantly higher investment,” Westling said.  “This will be a $250 million investment when it’s done.”
The original plant work was estimated to cost $75 million.
At the morning get-together, Geneva City Administrator Kyle Svec fielded a question in the street in front of Fortigen could handle the increased truck traffic.  Svec responded that the road was put in to meet highway specifications and he feels it should hold up.
Westling also fielded a question about the problems associated with the main holding tank during construction.  He said, the tank failed during pressure testing.  He also noted the Fortigen logo will be placed on the tank in the near future.