The company/client behind Project Rawhide revealed themselves Thursday evening through a series of phone calls to media outlets in eastern Nebraska.
An official from that company, Costco Wholesale Corporation (Costco) — the same Costco that runs the membership-only warehouse clubs around the United States — spoke Thursday evening with the Fremont Tribune.
Darin Buelow a principal of Deloitte Consulting LLP mediated the release of the company’s name to the the Fremont Tribune. The Tribune spoke with Jeff Lyons, the senior vice president of Fresh Foods of Costco Wholesale about the company’s potential selection of the Greater Fremont area as possible location.
Lyons stressed that the company still has not made a definitive site selection, and Buelow reiterated that point.
“There’s still a lot of work to get done as far as where this plant goes,” Buelow said. He further explained that there’s a lot of moving parts in confirmation of the final choice.
Lyons informed, “At this point eastern Ne is Costco’s first choice,” and they are very excited. The company feel the Fremont area could be a great fit, but he further stressed that the final decision has yet to be made.
Moving forward, Lyons explained that Costco will continue to look at those alternate locations, though he declined to mention those locations by name.
Once a decision is made, Lyons said that many more components of the project will need to be verified and examined. Some of those components will include research into the feasibility of engineering the facility at the chosen site. Additionally confirmation of interest among the grower’s network— the 75 to 100 farmers who would raise the chickens — will need be examined.
In the coming months, Lyons said the steps and the decision be prepared and finalize for approval from the company’s board.
Lyons also accentuated the the economic development teams in the area that have been working with due diligence on the project and many other local organizations have been very welcoming to the project, further underscoring the enthusiasm that Nebraska exemplifies for the agricultural, food processing and poultry industries.
“We are delighted that Costco is strongly considering the Greater Fremont area and Dodge County for its new facility,” Greater Fremont Development Council, Executive Director, Cecilia Harry said. “Costco has an excellent reputation as a responsible American corporation. This poultry operation would be an economic boost to the region, providing jobs, economic diversity for family farms and an opportunity for younger farmers to stay in the area.”
Harry also revisited the potential benefits the facility could bring to the Greater Fremont Area:
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- The creation of 1,100 new jobs.
- Investment of $180 million in capital.
- Provide the Greater Fremont/Dodge County area with an additional tax base of $63 million and bring another level of philanthropy to the community, creating another great corporate partner.
- Offer opportunities for workers to gain entry into the job market and further enhance their skill sets in the state’s top industry – agriculture. The jobs created will vary from management to production.
The GFDC also stated that area corn and soybean growers also could benefit from a new buyer of their product. The company plans would need to purchase the 300,000 bushels of corn and 3,000 tons of soybean meal required per week from local providers.
Lyons reported that last year the company’s 2015 fiscal sales reached $113.7 billion and that it was the second largest retailer by revenue in the United States and that this new venture (i.e. poultry processing operation) will allow them to expand the food processing component of their company. Costco currently operates 703 warehouses worldwide, including 492 in the United States and Puerto Rico.
Lyons also spoke to the confidentiality that has been a point of contention in the Fremont area since the story broke.
He explained that this is the first time the company has attempted a project of such magnitude. He said they had to think about how the competitors might react and also how Costco suppliers might interpret such news. Costco wanted to be sure everyone was on the same page when it came to communication.
“There is more due diligence to be completed by Costco representatives, and there will be a number of open public meetings to discuss the project,” Harry said.
To attract this project the Greater Fremont Development Council said it worked closely with support from Fremont Mayor Scott Getzschman, the Greater Omaha Economic Development Partnership, Nebraska Department of Economic Development, Nebraska Department of Agriculture, Dodge County Government, Fremont Department of Utilities, City of Fremont, the Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska (AFAN) and other community officials.
In closing, Lyons said that he has roots in the area. He was born in Lincoln and retains many fond memories of Nebraska.