Tomatoes shown on the Bushel Boy website.

Plans are moving forward for a Minnesota tomato producer’s new growing facility on Mason City’s south side.

Bushel Boy Farms of Owatonna plans to grow hydroponic tomatoes on an 80-acre development on the southwest side of the city. North Iowa Corridor Economic Development Corporation CEO Chad Schreck says he’s been working with Bushel Boy Farms on coming to Mason City for a number of years.

“As we’ve gone through that process, it’s been apparent that it’s a phenomenal company. I think anybody that was able to check into them will see that they do a great job up in Owatonna where they’re at, so is something that appealed to us very early on,”Schreck says. “Over the last six months, this project has really ramped up and become apparent that they wanted to move forward.”

Ground will be broken for the project this week. Schreck says the 35 to 40 million-dollar project will include a 16 to 17 acre greenhouse along with a 50,000 square foot packing house and 47 jobs. “A about a $1.7 million annual salary coming into the community. Across those jobs, about a $17 an-hour average with benefits, healthcare, 401-K, those type of things for all full-time employees. We think great jobs, great opportunity for the community, big investment,” Schreck says.

Bushel Boy Farms fits in with the EDC’s Vision North Iowa plan in that it targets bringing value-added agriculture into the area.
“As we looked at different areas, obviously we are an agricultural community and state. I think what came through loud and clear is we want to be on that value-added side with products that are maybe a little more higher-end or upper scale,” Schreck says. “Bushel Boy looks at a lot of the local food market, obviously this is larger scale, but they really look at themselves as a local foods product across the Midwest…your HyVee, Target and various other stores and restaurants, and obviously they’re looking to grow those relationships. One of the appeals of being an Iowa-based company was the relationship of HyVee obviously.”

The state Transportation Commission recently approved a Revitalize Iowa’s Sound Economy grant of up to $555,000 to assist in the expansion of frontage road access to not only the Bushel Boy facility — but also for potential other developments.

(By Bob Fisher, KRIB, Mason City)

(This story was edited to correct timing on the groundbreaking)