Farm co-op plans $35 million facility in Marysville

Steve Wartenberg, The Columbus Dispatch

May 16, 2014

The Heritage Cooperative has announced plans for a $35 million facility in Marysville that will help its members to farm their fields more efficiently.

Expected to open in September 2015, the 277-acre agriculture campus and research farm will include a grain elevator, two fertilizer warehouses and rail access to the nearby CSX rail line, according to Eric Parthemore, CEO of the Heritage Cooperative.

"Together we can accomplish more," he said of the principle behind the cooperative, which has members in 18 Ohio counties.

A cooperative allows farmers to form businesses that gather and market the products members produce, supply fertilizer and other necessary products, and offer financial services. There are approximately 3,000 farm cooperatives in the United States, according to the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives.

The Marysville project will be the cooperative's 23rd site with a grain elevator.

"We need this to remain competitive," Parthemore said, adding that co-op products - such as corn, soybeans and wheat - are collected in the grain elevators and then sold regionally and nationally.

The rail line will be an 8,600-foot loop from the existing CSX line, Parthemore said.

This will allow the cooperative to move products from nearby fields to the grain elevator more quickly and also make it easier to keep the fertilizer warehouse stocked.

The site will "deliver the cutting-edge efficiency, access to markets and agricultural technologies that position (our members) for success," Parthemore said.

Union County officials think that the Marysville project will provide an economic boost for the area.

"The exciting part of this is, the investment they're making is right here," said Jason Stanford, development services manager of the Union County Economic Development Partnership. "We have two major industries - manufacturing, which is the dominant one, and agriculture, which is still huge."

The cooperative's Marysville project is expected to create 20 full-time jobs and 15 part-time positions with an annual payroll of about $1.1 million.

The long-vacant site is an enterprise zone, an Ohio program that provides tax exemptions for companies that make investments in the state. The Heritage Cooperative will receive a 10-year, 75 percent tax break, Stanford said.

Farm cooperatives have been in existence for more than 100 years.

"When we see a cooperative growing and expanding, that is good not just for the farmers but for the entire economy in that area," said Joe Cornely, spokesman for the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation.