The former North Star Beef slaughterhouse, which closed in 2009, has reopened with new investors as Triple J Family Farms. The new plant was opened in April with about 80 workers, and the owners are trying to get a state grant that would allow for an expansion to 200 employees.

The plant was closed in April 2009 because of excessive levels of arsenic in its well water. A new water sourcing arrangement with the city of Buffalo Lake, Minn., has solved that problem. Currently, the plant is producing a couple of hundred head per day, reports the Minneapolis Star Tribune, but the goal is to reach capacity of 600 head per day.

To boost production, the company must increase its wastewater processing capacity, said Jeff Eastman, the plant's general manager, and Triple J is partnering with the nearby city of Hector to do just that. Compared with Buffalo Lake, Hector has a wastewater facility that's larger and more adaptable to the Triple J expansion. The total cost of the project will be $2.5 million, and Triple J is hoping to pay half the cost while getting a state grant for the other half. The city applied this week to the state's Capital Projects Grant Program, a $47.5 million fund created earlier this year and run by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).

The deadline for applications is Monday, and the state already has about 45 of them, said Monte Hanson, a DEED spokesman. "It's going to be very competitive."

Triple J is owned by Iowa feedlot operator John Derner and Jim Stevens, head of Chicago's Lincoln Provision Inc.

Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune