Amino Acid Endeavor Adds 180 Jobs to Iowa

CJ CheilJedang, South Korea’s top food maker, will invest more than $300 million to build its first United States production plant. Located in Webster County, Iowa at North Central Ag Industrial Park west of Fort Dodge, it will employ 180 workers.

Doing business as CJ America, the plant will manufacture Lysine through fermentation technologies—an essential amino acid added to animal feed.

Construction is scheduled to begin in April 2012 and production in December 2013. The company said in a statement that the output from the Iowa plant will have a production capacity of 100,000 tonnes per year for the U.S. market.

“We have to target the U.S. [Lysine] market to grab the top position in the global bio-market,” CJ CheilJedang CEO Kim Chul-Ha said.

“Starting from the end of 2013, we will devote all our energies to dominating the market through aggressive business and marketing activities.”

The company is poised to continue investing until it achieves an annual capacity of 700,000 tonnes of Lysine for animal feed and thus obtains a global market share of 30% by 2014, the statement added.

“The location will be right next to Cargill and it will be the beginning of a whole bio-refinery complex,” Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad said. “I think Cargill envisions this to a be bioscience complex similar to what they already have in Eddyville, Iowa and in Blair, Neb.”

The Iowa Economic Development Authority Board approved $1.8 million in direct assistance and tax incentives for the project, and additional incentives are expected from Webster County and an Iowa DOT RISE (Revitalize Iowa’s Sound Economy) grant.

Branstad and Debi Durham, head of the Iowa Partnership for Economic Progress, met with CJ Cheiljedang representatives in January, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds met with them on a trade trip in June and Branstad visited with them again on his September trade mission to Asia.

“It’s a major investment and it is a result of the direct and hands-on effort that we’ve made at economic development,” he said.