Bayer CropScience officially celebrated the opening of a $12 million facility in Shakopee Thursday that designs and makes equipment related to seeds.
Seeds are often treated with insecticides, fungicides or other chemicals, and federal rules require that they be coated.
Mark Belden, site leader for the new SeedGrowth Equipment Innovation Center, said that it makes the equipment to apply the treatments and coatings for "just about every kind of seed that exists."
"The coating is an inert material that seals the seed and gives it a good, clean look," he said. It also prevents the chemicals from rubbing off or dusting off and getting into the atmosphere where they could create problems, he said.
Bayer makes the equipment for large seed companies, such as DuPont Pioneer and Monsanto, Belden said, and also for local seed retailers that treat seeds shortly before selling them to farmers.
"We do metal fabrication, machining, welding, electromechanical assembly and final assembly of equipment," he said. "We also do our prototypes and testing."
Bayer CropScience broke ground on the 11-acre site last August and the center's 50 employees moved into the center in February. In addition to the 100,000 square feet of manufacturing space, it contains 35,000 square feet of office, research and training facilities, and 45,000 square feet for future facility expansion.
Company officials said they worked with county conservationists to plant native seeds in no-mow areas around most of the plant, installed drip irrigation instead of lawn sprinklers to save water, and planted a pollinator seed mix around the facility to assist local beekeepers in the area.
Belden said the company has been in Shakopee since 2000, and Bayer was a part owner before it acquired 100 percent of the business in 2005. The company considered other places to build the center, he said, but chose to remain in Shakopee in part because the area has the kind of skilled workforce it needs in machining, and because Minneapolis is a convenient transportation hub for the company's expanding international market.
Jim Blome, president and CEO of Bayer CropScience LP, said the innovation center brings together top talent. "The work done by our team in Shakopee continues to drive innovation in our equipment, services and technology, while also serving as a training center for our customers and employees all under one umbrella," he said.
Bayer CropScience is a subgroup of the global business Bayer AG, and is focused on sales of high value seeds, crop protection solutions, and products and services for pest control in homes and gardens.