Chrome ceremonial shovels will churn dirt Friday at the sight of a new fertilizer plant to be built in Geneva.

Gov. Pete Ricketts will be the keynote speaker at the groundbreaking for the Fortigen anhydrous ammonia plant on the northeast side of the 2,200-person town, about 70 miles southwest of Lincoln. Fortigen is a subsidiary of Omaha-based Tetrad, Inc. It's the company’s first fertilizer manufacturing facility.

The plant will sit on about 20 acres, which were part of 122 acres of farm ground the company bought from Robert and Kay Betka and Irene Betka of Exeter.

Construction of the facility is expected to cost between $72 million and $80 million, said Joshua Westling of Tetrad.

Westling said the Geneva community has been great to work with and an important part of the project success. City officials are working with the company to procure tax increment financing to help with the project.

Construction, which will mean 150 jobs, is expected to begin in April and take 18 months to complete, Westling said.

Once running, the facility will employ 20 to 30 people and produce about 100 tons of fertilizer a day, he said.

Eric Kamler, a city councilman and Geneva Chamber of Commerce president, said the new plant will mean a significant economic boost for the community. He hopes it will spur new home construction to house workers as well as increased property valuation for the city and schools.

The council late last year annexed the land the plant will be built on -- which is across the street from the town's existing industrial park -- and rezoned it for industrial use.

Tetrad Corp. of Omaha is part owner of Tetrad Property Group, which is developing Innovation Campus and other projects in Lincoln.

The groundbreaking ceremony is open to the public. It starts at 10 a.m., half a mile east of R Street and U.S. 81 on the far northeast side Geneva.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7304 or nbergin@journalstar.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ljsbergin.

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