Soto

Hatchery Manager Luis Soto shows one of 30 chicken incubators during last year’s opening ceremony for the new state-of-the-art, $18.5 million Hendrix Genetics hatchery in Platte Valley Industrial Park-East. (Independent/Barrett Stinson, file)

Earlier this month, Gov. Pete Ricketts received Site Selection Magazine’s “Governor’s Cup” for the second consecutive year.

The award recognizes states that have demonstrated the most outstanding economic development achievements over the past year. Nebraska received the honor for having the most capital investment projects per capita in the nation in 2017.

Among Nebraska’s accomplishments cited was Hendrix-ISA’s $18.5 million chick hatchery in Grand Island.

“Nebraska agriculture experienced growth in production and investments across the entire state,” said NDA Director Steve Wellman.

When it comes to attracting businesses, Ricketts said a welcoming community makes a big difference. He said that made a big difference in Hendrix Genetics choosing Grand Island for its new facility.

The $18.5 million facility at 2325 W. Schimmer Drive covers 20 acres in the northeast section of Grand Island’s Platte Valley Industrial Park-East. The new hatchery operation will serve 10 percent of the U.S. market demand.

The Grand Island plant produces enough chickens to produce 10 billion eggs, or about 25 eggs per person in the U.S. In 2016, U.S. consumption was 268.4 eggs per person.

“It is a fantastic state-of-the-art facility for this hatchery,” Ricketts said. The governor called the plant a “great example of value-added agriculture and how we are going to grow Nebraska.”

The hatchery coming to Grand Island was a partnership between the Grand Island Area Economic Development Corporation, Ricketts and Hendrix Genetics.

Hendrix searched throughout the U.S. for a location for a new hatchery. They found that because of its central location in the U.S., the Grand Island location fitted its goal to expand its market share.

Hendrix Genetics is a privately-held, international, multi-species breeding company with activities in layer, turkey, swine, traditional poultry and aquaculture breeding. It is an example of the expanding poultry industry in Nebraska.

The principal market for the corn and soybeans grown in Nebraska is feeding livestock. Ricketts said the farmers who put up the barns to raise the eggs for Hendrix Genetics will be feeding their layers the corn and soybeans grown in Nebraska.

“It is an example of how we take a commodity and add value to them to grow our state and grow our economy,” Ricketts said.

Dave Taylor, president of the Grand Island Area Economic Development Corp., said the Hendrix Genetics plant adds 43 jobs and represents a more than $40 million infusion to the area economy.

Along with the main hatchery in Grand Island, 11 outlying barns support the facility. They are within 100 miles of the facility. The barns are located in Buffalo, Fillmore, Franklin, Nuckolls, Merrick, York, Clay and Gosper counties.

Antoon van den Berg, chief executive officer of Hendrix Genetics, was in Grand Island for the opening of the hatchery last year. “This is a showcase for the company,” van den Berg said.

He said having the facility in Nebraska is essential. “It is a big important and high-value market,” van den Berg said.

Currently, Hendrix Genetics has 25 percent of the U.S. market. “We needed the facility here to grow markets,” van den Berg said.

Reporter

I cover business, ag and general reporting for the GI Independent.

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