Farmers Pride couldn't have made its intentions for a future in Neligh any more clear than with a multi-million dollar upgrade.
"We are here to stay. We're part of the community and are excited to expand to serve our producers even better," Neligh manager Anna Crabtree said.
Crabtree said the $7.5 million expansion on the east edge of Neligh is on schedule and will be ready for harvest this fall.
The expansion includes three new bins, a covered scale and pit, a new probe, a wider entrance with three lanes of traffic and much more, including the hiring of additional office help to keep semis moving through quickly.
Crabtree said semis currently need 10-15 minutes to unload, but the upgraded system will cut that down to a mere three minutes.
"Producers are excited about the speed we'll be able to offer," she said. "They want to get in and out, especially during harvest when they need to get back to the field."
Farmers Pride now stores 2.2 million bushels of grain, but that will be increased by another 1.4 million bushels with the addition of the three bins, Crabtree said.
The two larger bins, each holding 630,000 bushels, will be used for corn. A third wet grain bin will hold another 150,000 bushels. Crabtree said the largest bin in use now holds about 400,000 bushels. Once the expansion is complete, the current corn complex (on the west side) will be used for soybeans, and corn will be stored in the new east complex.
Crabtree said a new dryer will dry 4,500 bushels per hour, and the new grain leg will move 20,000 bushels per hour. That, combined with having a covered scale, will keep semis moving no matter the conditions.
The expansion also includes moving the gate and widening the driveway to allow for three lanes of traffic. Crabtree said safety will improve with semis not waiting on the shoulder of Highway 275 thanks to having two lanes for entering and one for exiting.
So what does the $7.5 million expansion mean for Neligh and surrounding communities? Neligh Economic Development Director Greg Ptacek said it's not only great for the agriculture sector, but it shows the potential for the business community.
"This is huge for economic development in Neligh because agriculture is such a strong part in our community," Ptacek said. "You usually don't see a large investment like this in a town that doesn't have a rail system, so it really shows that Neligh is a community worth investing in."
In January, Farmers Pride approved $22 million in facility upgrades to Neligh, Osmond and Newman Grove locations, and Crabtree said there is still room for growth at the Neligh location.
She said Farmers Pride is member owned and worked with producers for the design of the expansion to better serve their needs.
"We're doing this for our owners, so it made sense for them to be a part of this every step of the way," Crabtree said. "They've helped with plans, routes, equipment. They know what they use and what they need and like. Some said this is the first time they've ever been asked for their input, and they thanked us for allowing that. And we thank them for their help."
She added, "They're a critical part of this project, and we're doing this for them."