Losing Shrimp Farm No Small Matter

[Star Tribune March 4, verbatim]

The idea seemed far-fetched from the start: build a warehouse 1,000 miles from the nearest ocean, heat it to tropical levels and fill it with saltwater tanks to grow shrimp.

But state and local officials bought in to the idea when one of western Minnesota’s largest companies, Marshall-based Ralco, four years ago started a shrimp company called Tru Shrimp. Regulators in St. Paul put together subsidies. And the small town of Luverne readied an industrial park for a $45 million shrimp-growing facility, dubbed a “harbor.”

In early January, however, the company said it would instead build the harbor in Madison, S.D., citing a conflict with Minnesota’s environmental agency. State and local officials were shocked. Luverne Mayor Pat Baustian called it a “gut shot.”

While the move is relatively small in Minnesota’s broader economy, it poured fresh fuel on the perennial, fiery debate about the ease of doing business in the state.