By Per Peterson
The City of Tracy has been left on the outside looking in — at least for the near future — when it comes to shrimp production in the region, but Dennis Fultz is keeping an optimistic eye toward the future.
The trū Shrimp Company, an affiliate of Ralco, announced last week that it will build its first hatchery in Luverne, which will also be home to a shrimp production facility to be known as Luverne Bay Harbor. The company’s ability to double-down in Luverne wasn’t an option at first, as it originally thought it wasn’t advisable to build a harbor and hatchery on the same campus. However, as Michael Ziebell, president & CEO of trū Shrimp, said, engineering breakthroughs will enable a hatchery and harbor to share a campus.
While Tracy has been in the mix for some kind of partnership with trū Shrimp, Luverne has been chosen to be an immediate major player — not necessarily bad news when one considers the circumstances in Tracy today.
“I don’t think Tracy is ready for a hatchery,” Fultz said. “We’re not written off the list. In my mind, this buys us some time.”
That time, Fultz said, needs to be used wisely.
Fultz, who is part of the newly-formed Tracy Development Corp., admits Tracy has its warts and feels the city needs to move forward from a current controversy at city hall before it can realistically land new businesses. Fultz said the negative climate in downtown Tracy might not have been what prevented the city from being chosen to house a trū Shrimp facility, but he knows things need to change before the city can progress and envision a future that will include new businesses.
“There has been too much turmoil in Tracy, and it’s hurting us from a business development perspective,” he said. “We have to demonstrate to the business people in southwest Minnesota that we are a progressive community that can work together on projects.”
trū Shrimp’s 60-acre Luverne campus near Interstate 90 will house Luverne Cove Hatchery, a 42,000 square-foot facility, a free-standing shared water treatment facility and Luverne Bay Harbor. According to a news release, Luverne Cove Hatchery will provide for spawning and will house larviculture tanks where small post larvae shrimp grow until they are mature enough to be transferred to a Harbor. The hatchery will be able to raise 2 million post-larvae (baby shrimp) per day, which is enough to supply two fully operational Harbors and provides future redundancy. trū Shrimp estimates Luverne Cove Hatchery will employ 20 people and the Harbor will employ a minimum of 60.
Ziebell said Luverne had all the criteria trū Shrimp was looking for when it was vetting area cities for its installations, and that its location near the I-90 corridor was a strong selling point because it all but assures a strong workforce.
For more on this article, see this week’s Headlight-Herald.