Link Snacks Inc. funds gas line to AlpenaProject is latest in run of investments by jerky maker.
By: Chris Huber, The Daily Republic
ALPENA — Natural gas will soon heat homes and businesses in the town of Alpena thanks largely to Link Snacks Inc., which continues to pour money into its production plant and the small community.
A new 19-mile natural gas line stretching from the north to the town was paid for primarily by Link Snacks Inc., or LSI, the Wisconsin-based makers of Jack Link’s Beef Jerky, and is now in place.
Construction on the $2 million pipeline began in July 2012 and reached the substation at Link Snacks Inc. in December. NorthWestern Energy will begin extending the gas main into the town of Alpena this spring, with natural gas service available to the general public by the summer.
The line is just the latest improvement that the plant, which has 800 workers, has brought to the community of fewer than 300 people.
Earlier in 2012, LSI invested $7.1 million into an expansion and equipment upgrade at the wastewater treatment facility for the town. The upgrades will allow the facility to handle larger water outputs from LSI. The total for that project is $9.1 million, and the project is expected to be completed by the fall.
Rick Tebay, LSI general manager for the Alpena facility, said the company’s decision to change the plant to natural gas instead of liquid propane was both fiscal and environmental in nature, since natural gas is more cost effective and has lower greenhouse-gas emissions.
“Anytime we can save a little money and make an impact on our footprint on this planet, we want to do that,” Tebay said.
Link Snacks Inc. also recently expanded its Alpena production facility. The overall expansion is roughly 26,000 square feet and is expected to create more than 50 pre-development and construction jobs as well as allow Link Snacks Inc. to create 75 new, full-time jobs in its facility by the end of 2017. Tebay said the upgrades to the wastewater facility had to be done because of the expansion. Tebay said as soon as the wastewater treatment upgrade is operational, production is expected to ramp up at the plant, and it will start to hire more employees. Why invest so much into the infrastructure of a small town? “Small town South Dakota is kind of who we are as a company and what we stand for, so we like being here,” Tebay said. “I can’t stress enough the great work ethic the people of this state have, and that is a big reason we continue to stay here.”
He said wages at the facility stay competitive because of the proximity of Dakota Provisions, a turkey processing facility in nearby Huron.
“We like being here in Alpena and we like the relationship we have with the town and its people,” Tebay said. “If we can do something that helps out our company and the people of Alpena at the same time, we want to do it.”