By MATT MILNER
Courier staff writer
---- — EDDYVILLE — Thursday's groundbreaking in Eddyville was a long time coming. But it almost happened six years ago.
Harris and Ford, LLC., wanted to open a chlor-alkali plant and were within weeks of signing a deal to construct one in Iowa back in 2007. Then the markets collapsed and funding dried up. The project appeared dead.
Things were so bad that Joe Ford asked his co-founder Tim Harris whether the plant was ever really going to happen. Harris told him it would take a recovery on the scale of Lazarus rising from the dead.
Iowa, meet the business version of Lazarus.
HF Chlor-Alkali, LLC., will begin production in early 2015, the newest company to set up shop in what has become a thriving center for industrial innovation. Location, in this case, mattered. Harris and Ford has a long corporate relationship with Cargill, which will handle the new plant's water supply and wastewater treatment. Harris called the site a “closed loop” that works to both businesses' advantage.
Chlor-alkali production is a homecoming of sorts for Harris.
“If I go back in my history, my first assignment was at a chlor-alkali plant like we're building here,” he said. So were his next several assignments.
The groundbreaking drew both Ford and Harris to Eddyville, along with Alan Willits, Cargill's president of corn milling for North America, as well as Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds.
The 29-acre space will make caustic soda, muriatic acid and bleach. It is expected to create at least 25 jobs when it begins production in early 2015.