MITCHELL — On Tuesday morning, about 50 citizens packed the room of the Davison County Commissioners’ Chamber and filled it with hopeful anticipation, as the county took its next step en route to building the largest soybean processing facility in state history.
By the end of the morning, the Davison County Commission had voted 4-0 to approve South Dakota Soybean Processing’s (SDSP) $21 million TIF funding proposal. The funding will go toward the construction of the $500 million mega-soybean processing plant they hope to build in Davison County.
Tuesday’s decision by the county commission saw four members vote in favor of the TIF proposal, with a fifth member Chris Nebelsick, recusing himself due to a declared conflict as an investor in the project. Commission votes do not use stand-ins in the case of absences or declared conflicts of interest, instead requiring a majority vote of the remaining members.
South Dakota Soybean’s commitment to being a good neighbor and a good corporate citizen is what swayed Commission Chairman Randy Reider, while member Mike Blaalid said the plant will drive costs of soybean transportation down for farmers.
As well as the commission vote being unanimous, the packed room — which notably included Mitchell Mayor Bob Everson, Mitchell Chamber of Commerce Director Geri Beck and Chamber Director of Regional Development Dave Lambert — also had no dissenting voices in the audience.
On Tuesday, a collective sentiment that included Everson, Beck and Lambert, expressed positive feelings about the project, according to Davison County Auditor Susan Kiepke’s minutes from the meeting. Beck called the plant “a benefit to Davison County as well as the city of Mitchell in the long run.” It was a statement that Lambert and Everson echoed.
Also in attendance were local farmers — a number of whom expressed the benefits the processing plant will bring to them as well.
The plant’s benefits for transportation costs for farmers was also touted by Craig Stehly, another farmer. “Right now, we’re exporting large amounts of soybean to China. This would help retain exports here. When you do that it’s just better in the long run — it means more money for farmers.”
The passing of the proposal comes after a series of approvals by multiple county committees over the past year, and the case for the proposal presented on Tuesday was only a brief summary of the project.
In Davison County, TIF proposals require the fulfillment of a number of mandatory criteria to pass. The TIF was already found to meet those criteria by both the county TIF committee and planning and zoning committee. But these entities only have the authority to make recommendations — the county commission must sign off on a proposal for it to pass officially.
Now, the $21 million TIF will be paid by the county to SDSP over a period of years in the form of a rebate on the processing plant’s county property taxes, as the county and the company both expect to reap long term economic benefits. In other words, there is no money being disbursed today.
A tax-increment financing proposal works by using the property tax revenue increases a new project brings to an area — in this case, the revenue from the soybean plant for Davison County — and deals that money back to the builders of the project over a maximum period of 20 years.
The $21 million figure of the TIF proposal comes from an estimate of how much in taxes the plant will generate over the next 20 years — just over $1 million a year. This means that if the estimate is correct, the county will pay back the $1 million each year in property taxes generated by the processing plant to SDSP. In the meantime, SDSP is responsible for fronting the costs of the facility, which are currently estimated to be just over $500 million.
Kai Englisch joined The Mitchell Republic in 2023, where he currently works as a general assignment reporter covering the greater Mitchell area. Englisch graduated from St. John’s College in 2022, receiving a B.A. in Liberal Arts. He speaks German and conversational Spanish.
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