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Luverne left shocked after company shifts planned shrimp farm to South Dakota

The announcement came last week, but the city is still hopeful of getting a shrimp harbor in the future.

Officials in Luverne have been blindsided by a Minnesota company's decision to build its proposed "shrimp harbor" in South Dakota instead.

The tru Shrimp Company, based in Balaton, Minnesota, initially announced its plans to build a $50 million shrimp farm in the southwest Minnesota community in February 2017, seeking to capitalize on the growing demand among American consumers for the popular crustacean.

Some of the preliminary work for the site had already been done in Luverne, with more than $2.5 million state and local funding being used to prepare local infrastructure, but a regulatory holdup with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency delayed construction.

This holdup, tru Shrimp CEO Michael Ziebell said in a statement last week, impacted the company's timeline and financing, prompting it instead to announce it will be building its first shrimp harbor in Madison, South Dakota, instead.

"It is a matter of timing," he said. "Our timeline for capital financing and construction in 2019 does not allow adequate time to resolve the items in Luverne. Locating the first Harbor in Madison not only meets the critical components of our business model, but our timeline as well."

Speaking to the Star Tribune, Luverne Mayor Patrick Baustian described the move as a "gut shot" that "blindsided" his administration. 

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The newspaper notes that the regulation in question dates back to the '60s and relates to the mineral levels in the water that could be discharged by the shrimp farm operations, which would exceed Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) standards.

Tru Shrimp did not face the same level of regulation in South Dakota.

That said, as the Daily Globe reports, the company has already sunk $800,000 of its own money into the Luverne project, and the hope is that the regulatory snafu can be sorted out so tru Shrimp's second shrimp harbor will be built in Luverne.

"The City of Luverne stands ready to facilitate the construction of the second tru Shrimp harbor in Luverne in three years," Baustian said in a statement 

The initial plans for Luverne would have seen the creation of a facility that could produce 8 million pounds of shrimp a year, with the 60-acre site including a 42,000 square foot hatchery next door to its harbor, Undercurrent News reports.

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