Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad spent 45 minutes here Tuesday touring a brand new $30 million soy flour mill facility at CHS, Inc. located on East Howard Street in Creston.
CHS top executives Carl Casale and Tom Malecha guided the tour. They told Branstad the flour mill facility should be fully operational by mid-summer and will produce 30 to 35 good-paying jobs in Creston.
That’s welcoming news for Branstad who hasn’t given up on his administration’s goal of creating 200,000 jobs in Iowa by 2015. It’s also welcoming news for Creston which lost more than 70 jobs in September 2013 when Gits Manufacturing officially announced its closure.
“When you have one of the largest soy flour plants in North America, which that is what this plant in Creston is, it provides an opportunity in our local ag industry to capitalize on new jobs and new investments in the community,” said Wayne Pantini, executive director of Union County Development Association.
Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds viewed two levels of the flour mill building Tuesday morning. The mill will be capable of producing 200,000 tons of soy products per year, when fully operational.
Malecha said the soy flour will be made from whole soybeans produced by farmers in the nine counties surrounding Creston. Malecha said soy flour is used in doughnuts, breads and cookies.
“Soy flour is a replacement for wheat flour,” Malecha said. “Soy flour has a higher nutritional content and is prefferred for baking items because more water can be added which increase moistness of the bakery products, thus, adding shelf life.”
Soy flour can also be a meat extender for products like pizza toppings and imitation bacon bits.
“The soy flour is mixed in with sausage or pepperoni pizza topping,”Malecha said. “It might be 2/3 meat and 1/3 soy flour, and the soy flour does two things — make the pizza look less greasy on top, but also contains all that flavor into the sausage piece.”
Both genetically modified (GMO) and non-GMO flour will be produced in Creston and sold to companies like General Mills, Nestle and Land O Lakes. It will also be exported all over Europe, Mexico and Middle East.
“We will be about 80 percent GMO and 20 percent non-GMO in Creston,” Malecha said. “There is a move for more non-GMO products both in the European market and domestically. In general, you can see that whole foods section in your grocery store continuing to grow.”
Malecha emphasized, though, 90 to 95 percent of soybean crop in the United States is GMO and there is no science that GMOs are bad.
“It really comes down to public sentiment,” Malecha said.
Byron Day will manage the operations and maintenance of the flour mill at CHS in Creston. He has more than 30 years experience in engineering and plant managment. In addition to soy flour, the mill will also produce soy mill and soy oil.
CHS is a Fortune 100 company who did $2 billion in sales in Iowa last year and $27.6 million in cash returns to Iowa families and communities.
We are in this business for the long haul in Creston, Malecha said. We are owned by farmers so think about the value farmers have. Our integrity is everything and that our word is our bond more than what’s written on a piece of paper.”
Branstad also took a tour of Cardinal Glass in Greenfield Tuesday and held a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) town hall meeting at Southwest Valley High School in Corning.