A Bountiful corporation executive said Wednesday that his company wants to build a 100-acre hydroponic plant in Cisco that could produce its first crop of tomatoes by as early as next fall.
Rodney Ford, co-owner of Spring Gardens Inc., said government financing to build the plant is critical to opening a tomato-growing and salsa processing plant that would employ about 800 people."We do have the operating capital. All we need is capital to build. The method of financing is the key to putting it there," Ford said. "If the financing could be arranged, we would want to start building in the spring with a crop by October."
Ford asked the Grand County Commission on Tuesday to support applications for federal and state economic development aid. He said the company also has prospects of private financing from investors abroad.
Commission Chairman Jimmie Walker said Wednesday he had placed several calls already to district and state economic development officials.
Spring Gardens, which incorporated in Utah in 1983, is associated with Banner Foods Inc. of Colorado. The company has proposed similar plants in Millard and Carbon counties and the Uintah Basin near Vernal.
Ford said the Uintah project is also dependent on financing, but the company has private financing that will enable construction to start next spring on a geothermic facility in Millard.
Spring Gardens has also submitted a letter of intent to build a 12-acre plant in Carbon County by next spring, he said. It would use waste heat generated by a coal-burning plant to be built next year by a Boston firm.
Ford said Cisco was first seriously considered as a prospective plant site about two weeks ago after he talked with a member of the Grand County Planning and Zoning Commission. Ford said they discussed possible use of the waste heat that would be generated by a hazardous waste incinerator proposed for Cisco.
Ford said he is aware that the incinerator proj-ect could be defeated by voters in a referendum issue Nov. 8, but his development would not be affected.
"If the incinerator wasn't going to come in, we'd still be interested in coming in," Ford said. "Cisco's got a lot going for it."
He said the size of the project will depend on whether existing natural gas wells can be used. Costs of drilling for natural gas could affect plant size and make financing harder to obtain in a county already beset with credit problems and a diminishing tax base, he said.
The proposed plant site has not been chosen but a preferred location would be adjacent to Interstate-70, he said.