TOWN OF ROCK
International agricultural chemical company Nutrien plans to build a $10 million fertilizer plant and regional office in the town of Rock, company and town officials said.
The facility will supply fertilizers, seed chemicals and field treatments for more than 100,000 acres of farmland in southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois.
The company’s subsidiary, Nutrien Ag Solutions, a retailer of crop production inputs, is planning what town officials said will be a $10 million fertilizer plant on about 10 acres off Beloit-Rock Townline Road, just north of the Alliant Energy Riverside Energy Center.
Nutrien officials and town of Rock officials said the plant will be a site for wet and dry fertilizer storage. It will serve as a retail hub that Nutrien will use to distribute and deliver chemicals to farms in a large swath in Rock and Green counties and counties in northern Illinois.
Mark Gunn, Rock Town Board chairman, said Nutrien’s plant will be the biggest new commercial development the town has seen in years. He said it will be a benefit to farmers in the town and throughout the region.
Nutrien, a new company formed in 2018 from several subsidiaries, agreed to develop the town of Rock property after the town earlier this year approved a conditional-use permit for landowner Arthur Donaldson.
Local planning and environmental reviews are underway, Gunn and town inspector Chris Dodge said. A Minnesota-based contractor is grading and preparing the site for electrical service, Dodge said. No structural work has begun, Dodge said.
Under Nutrien’s former name, Agrium, subsidiaries Crop Production Services and Loveland have been operating for several years at an aging manufacturing site at 1903 Beloit Ave. on Janesville’s south side.
Nutrien has outgrown the Janesville site and plans to open the new facility by spring 2020, Nutrien Ag Solutions site manager Andrew Abbe told The Gazette.
It would be a significant expansion for the company locally and one that would make Nutrien’s future town of Rock site a regional center of retail distribution and corporate operations, Abbe said.
“We’ve grown so fast out of Janesville the last three years. We knew we’d been outgrowing the facility. As far as capacity and size, the new facility is about four times the size” of the Janesville site, Abbe said.
The plant will be built with new electronic automation, Abbe said, and all of the storage would be indoors—an “environmentally-safe” configuration that allows operations without using a major water capture system.
Abbe said the plant will include a large warehouse with semitrailer truck bays where dry fertilizers would be stored and a facility with tanks for liquid chemicals. He estimated the plant is set up to hold 2 million gallons of liquid chemicals and about 3,500 tons of dry fertilizer and seed treatments.
“That’s a really big outfit. This is going to be kind of like a flagship operation here. Everything will be state of the art,” Abbe said. “This is going to be something pretty special. I don’t know of any facilities that are this current and this updated.”
Abbe figures that between Nutrien’s regional corporate offices and the plant itself, the town of Rock site could employ 50 to 60 people during the busy seasons.
The plant is on land that’s west of the Rock River, an area of the town that’s not tied to an intergovernmental agreement the town of Rock holds with the city of Janesville.
Gunn said that means Janesville cannot annex land that encompasses the Nutrien site. That ensures property tax revenue generated from the plant will remain in the town of Rock.
“Our tax base, our town levy, is what we have to work with, and it would be pretty enhanced by this,” Gunn said. “I don’t have the particulars until the plant is able to be assessed, yet, but I’ll tell you it would be pretty enhanced.”