CHS Breaks Ground on New Site at Glacier Rail Park

Construction starts on facility next week

By Justin Franz
CHS Manager Mark Lalum speaks at the Glacier Rail Park on June 21, 2018 during the ground breaking for the new CHS facility. Justin Franz | Flathead Beacon

Public officials, business leaders and community members gathered at the Glacier Rail Park on June 21 to break ground on a new 10.4-acre facility for CHS Kalispell, the first tenant at the new industrial park off Whitefish Stage Road.

Mark Lalum, general manager of the local CHS, said that concrete work would begin next week with anticipated completion in September. After that, contractors will begin constructing grain elevators, a fertilizer facility and a warehouse. If everything goes according to plan, the facility will be ready for business next spring.

On June 21, as local dignitaries gathered for the groundbreaking, railroad track to serve the new grain elevators had already been put in place.

“It’s hard to believe this is all finally happening,” Lalum said.

CHS Kalispell is the first tenant to begin construction at the rail park. Once CHS and Northwest Drywall move into the park, the rail line that stretches into downtown Kalispell will be abandoned and replaced with a walking trail.

Lalum said not only will the new facility help Kalispell by freeing up land for new development, it will help CHS better serve local farmers and consumers. Lalum said the current grain elevator, built in the early 1900s, has had a hard time keeping up with demand in recent years. For example, it currently takes about 20 minutes to unload a grain truck, but with the new facility, it will take about five minutes. Lalum said the new facility will increase CHS’ grain capacity by 50 percent, and its fertilizer capacity will double.

“This is a win-win for everyone,” he said.

Elected officials, including Flathead County Commissioner Gary Krueger and Kalispell Mayor Mark Johnson, both praised the public and private partnership that has helped create the rail park east of Kalispell. Krueger said the industrial park will be a feather in the county’s cap when trying to attract new industries while also helping those that are already here.

“This rail park means that jobs are going to stay here and that means our kids will be able to stay here,” Kruger said. “This space will become a business mecca for Flathead County.”

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