Flour Mill Construction On Pace For 2015 Opening
By Mike Perleberg
(Dearborn County, Ind.) – Folks driving through West Harrison on Interstate 74 can’t help but notice new, towering silos poking over the tree tops.
Those 150-foot-tall silos are at the site of Whitewater Mills LLC, a $45 million flour mill partnership between Cincinnati-based Nagel & Son and Teutopolis, Illinois-based Siemer Milling. The project was announced last October, with the facility on Harrison-Brookville Road expected to be operational in March of 2015.
Despite a harsh winter, construction of the mill has continued on schedule, Siemer Milling President Rick Siemer told a crowd of farmers, agriculture advocates, and elected leaders at the Dearborn County Farm Bureau Annual Meeting held at Tanners Valley United Methodist Church on Monday. The silos have been poured in recent weeks and the mill slip will be laid soon.
Whitewater Mills – named for its proximity to the Whitewater River about 200 yards away – will require seven to eight million bushels of wheat per year in order to produce a about 10,000 hundred weights (about 500 tons) of flour per year. The companies will look to farmers near and far to meet its needs for high-quality grain.
“We dearly hope that we will buy every bushel locally that we are able to. We buy directly from farmers or whoever has wheat to sell us,” Siemer said.
The clean, modern facility will use state-of-the-art, computer-automated equipment in heat processing the wheat. The plant will run with a staff of 35 people – mostly new jobs to the county.
The flour produced in West Harrison will be used in food items and brands known as household names such as McDonald’s, Girl Scout cookies, Newly Weds Foods, Duncan Hines, Hostess, various store brands, and others.
Siemer said transportation was a key reason the companies chose the West Harrison property for their new mill, namely access to I-74 and I-275. The mill will also utilize a nearby railroad.
“It was amazing to me how difficult it was to find a site that suited us in that way,” he said, adding that the railroad which currently sees one car per day may see its traffic increase.
Siemer credited cooperation from Dearborn County and other governments for their help making the project a reality. The City of Lawrenceburg approved $1.4 million in grants to lure Siemer Milling and Nagel & Son, Eagle 99.3 has previously reported.
He hinted that there may be the possibility of expansion by Whitewater Mill or a customer building its own facility on adjacent property to eliminate the cost of transporting flour.
“We are doing that at West Harrison, actually. Part of Ted Nagel’s business where he takes flour and combines it with other ingredients in flour-based mixes for coatings, batters, breadings, and various other mixes is going to be located right next to our mill. But we have room on the other side,” Siemer said.
The mill site is currently considered in a flood plain, although 80,000 cubic yards of dirt were dug out on site near the Whitewater River to raise the land on which the mill is being constructed. Siemer said the company is hopefully FEMA will determine that the plant is no longer in the 100-year flood plain.