Osceola County Road Commission receives $646,000 grant

Funds will be used to improve roads surrounding proposed Michigan Potash Company operations

LANSING — The Osceola County Road Commission recently received a Michigan Department of Transportation Economic Development Fund Category A grant to improve roads to accommodate the expected increase of traffic around a location in Evart Township that, pending permits, will be home to a potash mining operation.

According to a release, the funds will be used to reconstruct 135th Avenue, Schofield Road and a portion of 120th Avenue to all-season standards. The total cost of this project is $5.22 million including $2,412,500 in TEDF Category A funds and $2,812,500 from Michigan Potash Company.

"We are humbled and pleased that MDOT has recognized the infrastructural necessity through its support of Michigan Potash," said Ted Pagano, corporate executive officer for Michigan Potash Company. "Together, we will bring to Evart Township, a Rising Tide community, a generational industry that creates jobs, infrastructure, royalties, new gross domestic product and better schools.

"This is made possible while strengthening Michigan agricultural trade and delivering a strategic and critical fertilizer to our farmers, ensuring that they have a domestic source of potash to affordably grow their crops. The long-term benefits reach beyond rural Michigan to include the entire United States corn belt. It begins with a road, made possible by MDOT and the Osceola County Road Commission."

Michigan Potash Company is transitioning the United States critical reserve of potassium fertilizer, also known as potash, from New Mexico to Michigan. Pending any applicable permits, the new facility will use solution mining processes to extract the naturally occurring potash and salt from subsurface mineral deposits in Evart Township, the release said.

The company will then pack and ship the salt and potash throughout the Midwest, significantly increasing traffic on the existing rural, gravel roads that are currently not designed to all-season standards.

During a recent Friends of Evart meeting, Pagano explained to community leaders there are 10 companies providing potash to farmers around the world.

"Potash is a controlled commodity," he said. "You're fortunate that the highest grade of potash located in the world is 10 miles away from Evart."

Pagano also showed photos of fruits and vegetables treated with potash and others that were not.

"Potash is essential to produce the best crops," he said. "Potash helps keep the water in the fruit. It's also important as it means that less water is needed for irrigation."

A commitment to improve the roads was a significant factor in the company's plans to move forward with establishing the facility at this location. The development investment is estimated to be $648 million, which will result in the creation of 153 new jobs, the release said.