Business Oregon Financing Backs Hermiston Seed Producer's Expansion Plans

The successful partnership between Business Oregon and DuPont Pioneer has sown more than advanced, hybrid seeds in farmer's fields around the world; it has grown more than 50 jobs in the rural northeastern Oregon community of Hermiston.

Three awards from the Governor's Strategic Reserve Fund (SRF), conditioned on the company achieving job creation and retention targets, helped DuPont Pioneer expand its seed production operations in Hermiston and build the company's North American headquarters for research for product advancement and characterization.

DuPont Pioneer, formerly Pioneer Hi-Bred International, is the leading developer and supplier of advanced plant genetics to farmers in nearly 70 countries around the world. The company was founded in 1926 by former U.S. Agriculture Secretary Henry A. Wallace to develop and market hybrid corn.

In 2010, a $100,000 conditional SRF award helped the company fund construction of an expanded seed production facility as well as a new seed research headquarters.

In 2011 and 2012, Business Oregon agreed to give the company a conditional SRF award totaling $150,000 to help fund another expansion at the site creating 18 new jobs. In early 2012, the company currently employed 36 full-time employees and 100 part-time workers. Operations at this expanded facility began in late 2012. The city of Hermiston and Umatilla County agreed to grant the company a 5-year, property tax abatement through the state Enterprise Zone program.

Due to the growing demand for its products, the company expanded its original seed corn production operations, established in Hermiston in 2009, with an estimated $16 million capital investment in 2010. The new seed research center focused on trial seed production to advance corn product development and testing efforts for the commercialization of new corn hybrids. The initial facility included approximately 76,000-square-feet of building space on 12.5 acres adjacent to the current Pioneer production plant.

As part of the expansion of the operation, Pioneer needed to extend water, sewer and natural gas lines to the facility and also needed to purchase property for the research facility. The SRF conditional grant award and assistance from the Port of Umatilla helped offset the cost of the natural gas line improvements and the purchase of the property. The city of Hermiston and Umatilla County also extended the company property tax abatement through the local Enterprise Zone.

Business Oregon has now made a total of three investments in Pioneer's operations. In 2009, with assistance from the city of Hermiston and a $50,000 Strategic Reserve Fund forgivable loan, Pioneer established the $28 million facility in Hermiston to produce parent seed corn and pre-commercial hybrid seed corn. The facility provides more than 240 unique Pioneer brand hybrids and is receiving seed corn from farmers throughout eastern Oregon for distribution to customers. The original investment created 18 full-time jobs.