Lack of bids could delay pork plant

RANTOUL - Completion of a new $25 million pork plant could be delayed for as long as four weeks because no one submitted bids to construct a pretreatment building.

Bids were opened Friday for three portions of the Meadowbrook Farms pork-processing plant.

University Construction, Champaign, submitted a low bid of $3,074,720 to widen U.S. 136 and make other highway improvements in front of the pork plant.

StorkAqua Industrial Water Treatment, based in Lichtenvoorde, the Netherlands, submitted a low bid of $826,700 to build equipment to pretreat waste from the plant before it enters the municipal wastewater system.

But no firms submitted bids for a building to house the pretreatment equipment.

Rantoul Public Works Director Greg Hazel said he believes many area construction companies didn't know about the project.

While the village hired Daily and Associates to design and advertise for the highway work, Meadowbrook Farms hired its own engineering firm, The Facility Group of Atlanta, to design and advertise for the pretreatment equipment and building.

?The Facility Group advertised nationally for the project, but they didn't advertise in many of the local publications around here,? Hazel said. ?It was simply a case of local businesses not knowing there was work available for them.?

Hazel said re-advertising and rebidding for the building work could delay the project as long as four weeks, but Meadowbrook Farms Chief Executive Officer Jim Burke said he is still confident the project can be completed by the end of the year.

?I'm surprised we didn't have any takers on a prevailing wage project,? Burke said. ?We'd really like to have a local company do the work because we want to spend our money locally as much as possible.?

Only StorkAqua and an Ontario-based firm, Nijhuis Water Technology, bid on the pretreatment equipment.

Hazel said he believes no American firm chose to bid on that project because Meadowbrook Farms is using new technology never before available in this country.

?This kind of technology has been used in pork plants over in Europe, but Meadowbrook Farms is the first company to use that technology here in the United States,? Hazel said. ?It just makes sense that a European company would be the low bidder.?

Burke said StorkAqua is a well-known engineering and construction company that has built similar facilities throughout Europe.

You can reach Tim Mitchell at (217) 893-1423 or by e-mail at tmitchel@news-gazette.com.

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