City, county and Terra Industries officials broke ground during a ceremony Tuesday, marking the start of a $180 million expansion project to Terra’s facilities west of Woodward.

The new expansion will produce UAN, a nitrogen fertilizer product branded TerraSol, at a capacity of 1,500 tons a day, Terra officials announced. The expansion is expected to be complete by the summer of 2010.

Before the groundbreaking, Hugh Jones, chairman of the Woodward Industrial Foundation spoke, providing figures that demonstrated the value of the company to Woodward.

“Terra is the fourth largest taxpayer in the county,” Jones said. “As a result of this expansion project, their ad valorem tax will increase by approximately $1.8 million. As you are aware, these taxes go to support county government, EMS, the county health department, High Plains Technology Center and the Woodward public schools.

“We are also appreciative of the excellent jobs at Terra and the $8 million in annual payroll, which goes back into our community,” Jones said.

Jones congratulated Woodward citizens for extending the half-cent sales tax another five years.

“A small portion of (it) will be used for infrastructure to support Terra’s expansion,” he said.

Terra’s General Plant Manager Steve Moore also spoke, noting the company manufactured several products in addition to UAN -- anhydrous ammonia, ethanol and ureal liquor (a product used in cattle feed supplements).

“Last year this plant spent more than $100 million on natural gas consumption,” while making these products, Moore said. “We spent a half million dollars on property taxes ... and we pride ourselves on being a good employer,” he said

According to Project Director David Pierce of Sioux City, Iowa, Terra’s expansion had been in a planning stage for several years.

Terra executives looked at locations overseas and in other countries and decided Woodward would best fit its UAN project.

The existing Woodward plant had been engineered by Weatherly Inc. of Atlanta, Ga., and Terra officials were pleased with the work, so it was decided Weatherly should engineer the effort, Pierce said.

Construction will be done by Ventech Engineers, Inc., of Pasadena, Texas, he said, noting, “We’re going to use a lot of local firms as well.” About 100 people will be building the new plant at peak construction, “putting money into the community,” he said. “We will be tying up roads from time to time, and we apologize for that but, we look forward to doing this project.”

LaVern Phillips, president of the Woodward Industrial Foundation, said the new expansion was “huge for Woodward.”

“It’s a major investment for our community,” he said.

UAN has been the fastest growing nitrogen fertilizer product in North America over the past decade because of its versatility.

It can be applied effectively in a variety of soil conditions and is especially useful in various conservation tillage practices.

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