KALISPELL – The Flathead Valley marked a milestone on Thursday with a groundbreaking ceremony at the future site of Cenex Harvest Systems at Kalispell’s Glacier Rail Park.
The project was first launched in 2012 and is partially funded by a $10 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant from the US Department of Transportation.
The groundbreaking will allow CHS to begin to process of moving their facilities out of downtown to what will eventually become home to a grain facility, fertilizer plant and product warehouse along with a retail store and corporate office.
The $14 million investment in the new facility will secure the future for farmers and ranchers being able to access what they need and get affordable rates for transport of their farm products outside the Valley.
"It allows us to keep up with the higher speed and capacity that they’re running at today’s paces. In our old facilities we just couldn’t keep up with them," said CHS Mountain West General manager Mark Lalum.
"This will just speed up the process and we won’t have to store as much on the farm. We can take it more direct out of the field and then bring it to the elevator,” said CHS Mountain West board member Doug Manning who’s been farming in the Flathead for 21 years. “And we won’t have the long lines and things that used to keep us from actually hauling it at harvest time."
The groundbreaking also secures the future of Kalispell for urban renewal as the city moves closer to the goal of removing the train tracks from the center of downtown.
"It’s exciting just to be at this moment for so much hard work for so many years to be breaking ground for CHS is really quite a special day,” said Kalispell Chamber of Commerce Chairman Joe Unterreiner.
Lalum says he expects all three locations of CHS to be completely relocated to the rail park by spring of 2019. Northwest Drywall Building Supply also relocated from their location downtown to the rail park this fall.