POCATELLO — A Texas-based developer of temperature-controlled warehouse space that specializes in providing agricultural shipping logistics broke ground on Thursday for its massive facility at the Pocatello Regional Airport.
Utility infrastructure construction is already underway for Frigitek Industrial Parks’ 280,000-square-foot cold storage facility, which is expected to open west of the Pocatello Regional Airport terminals as early as spring 2021.
During the groundbreaking ceremony held at the airport late Thursday afternoon, Kenneth P. Brown Jr., CEO of Frigitek Industrial Parks’ parent organization Lionchase Holdings Inc., touted Southeast Idaho’s “underrated educational pipeline” and its loyal residents as being some of the company’s driving forces for locating the new facility in Pocatello.
“There are a lot of things about Pocatello that people don’t realize,” Brown said. “You have a population where people don’t move away or move back and forth from. People like being here and you have a ton of fourth-generation Idahoans living in Pocatello. Anytime you have people that like living where they live, that is good for business. Paying for training is a huge investment and if people just move away that becomes a huge loss. Education wise, this area is very underrated. It is very big on entrepreneurship and fast-tracked vocational programs, which are integral to business. With all the rah-rah about economic development, you have to have a pipeline of talent to continue to grow.”
Pocatello Mayor Brian Blad said the process of recruiting Frigitek Industrial Parks to the Gate City is one that Bannock Development Corp. first started approximately three years ago. Adding an enterprise like Frigitek Industrial Parks’ cold storage facilities to the area is a huge win for Southeast Idaho, Blad said.
“This is a third-party logistics company that we have desperately needed in this region,” Blad said. “This is a perfect location, and I would like to be the first to congratulate Ken on making this happen here because it’s just going to make his business blow up.”
The cold storage facility will include a mixture of refrigerated and frozen storage, freight services and processing.
Interim CEO and President of the Bannock Development Corp. Jim Johnston said potential cold storage customers include agricultural and food processors as well as growers and shippers, adding that Frigitek will immediately get to work arranging meetings and scheduling phone calls with potential clients.
“We can expect Frigitek to begin selling space to various companies within this area very soon,” Johnston said.
In addition to Brown, Blad and Johnston, featured speakers included the of Idaho Commerce Director Tom Kealey and Power County Commissioner Bill Lasley.
Brown said the company expects to employ approximately 30 people per eight-hour shift, which would amount to a total of 90 employees for a 24-hour shift. However, labor at the facility is just one of the main focal points for Frigitek, said Brown, adding that additional opportunity and added value to the area and surrounding agricultural market is equally, if not more, important.
“The emphasis is not on labor in the facility, the emphasis is on the impact this new facility can have on the area,” Brown said. “We are not just doing storage. We want to sell products, export and freight. We are looking at a ton of data analytics, visualization and mapping. We want to allow trucks to have more choices in routes.
Brown continued, “To be more specific, if you are a trucker and you have to tie up your rig to go all the way across the western U.S. with a large load, that is an asset that is being tied up. But if they can stop here and use digital freight management they can then pick up a load here and go back home and we’ll handle the delivered goods. We will use predictive analytics to figure out where and how a load should be delivered. This is about logistics, infrastructure sharing and most importantly about value added. Refrigeration is several different things — it’s freezing, cooling, ice. It could be a different number of things. Our goal is to provide solutions and logistics for other entities in the regional agricultural chain.”