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COLUMBUS — Gov. Pete Ricketts called a local corn processing plant a key mover in Nebraska’s “golden triangle” — corn to ethanol to power — that's helped fuel the state’s economic growth, create jobs and provide energy independence.

“It’s a great day to celebrate,” Ricketts said Wednesday during an anniversary event at ADM Corn Processing on the city's eastern edge. “The plant has brought 25 years of value-added ethanol and 25 years of jobs for Columbus families.”

Ricketts said the Columbus plant processes nearly 200 million bushels of corn a year while showing continued growth during the 15 years since ADM bought the facility in 2002.

“That’s a big deal,” the governor said while congratulating ADM and community leaders.

Those 200 million bushels represent 7 percent of Nebraska’s annual corn production and would consume the entire crop from Platte, Colfax, Madison, Butler and Polk counties, according to information from ADM.

Corn is delivered by semitrailers and rail and stored in concrete silos with a capacity of 3 million bushels to provide a steady supply for the plant to process.

ADM produces an estimated 1.1 million gallons of ethanol per day at the Columbus site and roughly 400 million gallons each year.

The governor, along with Mayor Jim Bulkley, District 22 Sen. Paul Schumacher of Columbus and ADM and Loup Public Power District officials, were the dignitaries who spoke to about 100 visitors Wednesday at the company’s training facility across the road from the East Eighth Street plant on the edge of town.

Bulkley recalled what the original 200-acre site looked like before Minnesota Corn Processors broke ground on the ethanol plant in 1992.

“It’s amazing, this was a cornfield 25 years ago. Today, it’s a massive facility,” said Bulkley, adding that he especially enjoyed the view of the plant under the nighttime skies, with the plant’s lights putting its size on full display.

“We wish you much success and, hopefully, another 25 years,” Bulkley said.

Loup Power officials were there at the beginning of the corn processing plant’s operations and to mark the 25-year milestone.

Retired executives Robert White and Dwayne Smith helped recruit Minnesota Corn Processors to Columbus.

“ADM is our largest customer, with power sales of about $25 million a year,” said Neal Suess, president and chief executive officer of the Columbus-based utility. The processing plant represents about 25 percent of Loup’s annual power sales.

“We’re really excited for them. We’ve done a lot of work for them, along with Nebraska Public Power District,” Suess said while looking over 25 years of the Columbus plant’s memorabilia lining the walls at the training center.

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Reporter

Jim Osborn is a news reporter at The Columbus Telegram.

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