Contractors are clearing the way for the second phase of a $85 million Bunge North America expansion that will generate 50 jobs and $1.8 million in annual payroll.
The company plans to construct a 110,000-square-foot packing facility in the 1500 block of Church Street Northeast.
Workers with Waters Brothers Contractors of Decatur are razing two buildings on the 11.3-acre site.
Phase 1, which started in the spring, involved expanding the plant’s existing refinery operation on Market Street Northeast. The soy-refining plant, on the Tennessee River, produces protein meal and soybean oil by crushing soybeans.
Bunge refines the oil for use in food products such as salad oils, margarines and shortenings. The company sells the protein meal for use in animal feed.
Bunge already employs about 136 workers, with an annual payroll of $5.36 million.
“It took a while to acquire all of the property, but it will be so good to finally see the facility coming out of the ground,” said Jeremy Nails, president of the Decatur-Morgan County Economic Development Association.
When the company hinted at expansion in 2008, the site for the packing facility was divided into six tracts, with six owners, including the city of Decatur and Tennessee Valley Authority.
The expansion is on track to be completed by the end of next year.
“It’s going to be a very modernized packing facility and something that is good for the community,” Nails said.
Bunge’s corporate headquarters did not return calls seeking comment Friday, but in a written statement in March, Decatur Plant Manager Gene Moore said the expansion is reinforcing the company’s commitment to the River City.
The site plan city officials approved include extensive landscaping improvements along Church Street to help protect adjacent residential areas.
Bunge is one reason Morgan County finished second in the state for industrial investment dollars in 2010.
Those dollars in Morgan topped $203 million in 2010, with Bunge’s $85 million investment leading the way.