Wayne County development as a pet food hub continues.

Anchor Ingredients of Fargo, North Dakota, last week announced the groundbreaking for its transload and ingredient processing facility to support area pet food manufacturers. It’s a $40 million investment that will create 30 jobs paying an average hourly wage of $25, Valerie Shaffer, president of the Economic Development Corporation of Wayne County told the county’s commissioners June 14.

“This is a really impactful project that will support our growing pet food cluster in the region,” Shaffer said.

She not only pointed to the expanding Blue Buffalo, Hill’s Pet Nutrition and Purina in Wayne County, but planned large-scale production facilities for Royal Canin in Lewisburg, Ohio, and Diamond Pet Food in Rushville as creating a Midwest animal food hub.

“This will certainly help grow our existing industries, but also will be a great asset to potentially attract more pet food producers to the area,” Shaffer said, adding that Anchor began with the EDC as Project Silo when Blue Buffalo located here, then became Project Thomas.

She said Anchor’s relationship with Blue Buffalo helped bring the company to Wayne County. Anchor will locate on 35.9 acres acquired from Blue Buffalo at 4650 W. Industries Road, which is east of Blue Buffalo’s facility.

Anchor will build a rail spur from the Norfolk Southern mainline that will loop around the facility’s north side and down the west side. It will receive bulk raw materials that will be processed on site then shipped to pet food producers in the region. The facility is expected to be completed by June 1, 2024.

“We are thrilled to break ground on our new transload and ingredient processing facility in Richmond,” said Al Yablonski, CEO and co-founder of Anchor Ingredients, in a June 13 news release announcing the groundbreaking. “This facility represents a significant investment in the pet food industry and demonstrates our dedication to being a true supply chain partner and delivering high-quality ingredients that meet the demands of our customers.”

Richmond’s Redevelopment Commission has committed $900,000 to build the rail spur and Norfolk Southern is spending about $400,000 for the necessary mainline switch, Shaffer said. In addition, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation has committed up to $310,000 in incentive-based tax credits and up to $200,000 in manufacturing readiness grants for the project. Anchor receives the incentives once employees are hired.

The company is not receiving a tax abatement or EDIT grant, Shaffer said.

“We are delighted to have secured a financial vote of confidence from Anchor Ingredients,” Mayor Dave Snow said in the release. “Anchor’s meaningful investment will provide a key element in the growth of our pet food manufacturing sector. We’ve seen significant investment in Richmond over the last six months, which are rallying points that show our current upward trajectory.”

Anchor initially in May received a zoning variance from Richmond’s Board of Zoning Appeals to have a building up to 145 feet tall, nearly three times the 50-foot zoning maximum. The extra height is needed for grain storage bins and the required conveyance system. 

Last Wednesday, the BZA granted Anchor variances for fence height, light pole height, side yard setback and maximum driveway width. Anchor will be allowed to install an 8-foot, zinc-coated, chain-link fence; have 50-foot parking lot light poles to reduce glare and improve truck driver safety; have just a 5-foot setback near the rail spur where loading and unloading will occur; and have a 45-foot-wide driveway to provide space for trucks to line up rather than on the roadway.

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A version of this article appeared in the June 21 2023 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Mike Emery is a reporter and layout editor for the Western Wayne News.