Plans are moving forward for Iowa to become home to North America’s largest indoor fish farming operation. A Canadian company has gotten the approval from Webster City leaders to take over two vacant buildings for the new plant while creating 150 new jobs. Keith Driver, president of Vero Blue Farms, says they plan to occupy the former Beam Vacuum Manufacturing facility and the former Kenco warehouse.
Driver says, “We’re looking to build a 216-tank aquaculture facility in Webster City, looking to build a 24-tank demonstration facility for our designated grower program, and then to build a fish processing facility and administration structure in the old Beam building.” The Beam vacuum facility closed two years ago, while the Kenco warehouse has been vacant since the closing of Electrolux Home Products in March of 2011. Driver says Webster City was a perfect fit for the fish farming operation since a similar facility operated by cousins Jeff and Mark Nelson near Blairsburg opened a few years ago.
He says they looked at potential sites across the U.S. and Canada and settled on central Iowa. “Webster City had come together with both the right equipment and with the right idea and program and fish,” Driver says. “Given the central location and the opportunity here with buildings that are available, it just made sense to set root here in the community as opposed to looking at any other options.” An open house is planned next week, on November 14th.
No firm opening date is set for the facilities but the target is 2015. Learn more at: www.iowasfirst.com
(Reporting by Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City)