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Tru Shrimp Took State Loan to Start Shrimp Factory in 2019, Now Says Won’t Start Building Until 2024

Minnesota public-subsidy pirateer Tru Shrimp has delayed the launch of its Madison operations again, telling SDPB that construction of its shrimp factory on beautiful Lake Madison won’t start until 2024:

Michael Ziebell, president and CEO of the company, spent more than 22 years with the Schwan’s Company where he helped to develop the Red Barron Pizza before joining Tru Shrimp.

…“Madison Bay Harbor is what we call it. And there we will build a facility modeled exactly on what is here in Balaton,” said Ziebell. “That facility will be cable of producing about 1.8 million pounds of shrimp, over 4,700 kg of chitosan, and about 600,000 pounds of pet food ingredient.”

Ziebell said they hope to break ground on the new South Dakota plant in 2024 and when complete, it will offer a minimum of 60 new jobs [Evan Walton, “Aquaculture Business Plans Expansion to South Dakota,” SDPB, 2023.05.08].

Well, it’s good to know Tru Shrimp has survived the grave financial circumstances that surrounded its IPO early last year. But back in 2019, when Ziebell got Governor Dennis Daugaard and cryptic Republican clubhouse Heartland Consumer Power District to float Tru Shrimp a $6.5-million low-interest loan to recruit them away from a state-subsidized site they’d been working on in Minnesota since 2016, Tru Shrimp said it would start building that year, start making shrimp by 2021, and create up to 120 jobs in Lake County. A 2021 pitch promised “an estimated 150 jobs upon facility launch“. But even after scaling its production plans back from 10 million pounds of shrimp a year to 1.4 million pounds (now in this latest SDPB report back up a bit to 1.8M), Tru Shrimp hasn’t turned its state handouts and investor support into turning earth to turn out shrimp in Lake County.

SDPB, which usually does pretty good reporting, somehow glosses over four years of fruitless promises and just lets Ziebell and local boosters repeat the same stuff we’ve heard since 2019 (and which Minnesota heard for years before its 2019 jilting):

The parent company Tru Shrimp has been working with the state for years to plan and develop the new plant.

“We did receive incentives from the State of South Dakota, its in the form of a convertible note that when we break ground and start building Madison, money invested by the State of South Dakota will become stock in the Tru Shrimp company,” said Ziebell. “The Lake Area Regional Development Corporation there we have an option on their land and industrial park. So yes, the State of South Dakota has been very supportive of us. Appreciate it very much.”

Local business leaders say Tru Shrimp will be an important addition. Brooke Rollag is the executive director of the Lake Area Improvement Corporation.

“We’re excited, so the Lake View Industrial Park we own land and we’ve engaged in a land option with Tru Shrimp Madison. Bay Harbor is the official name of the project,” said Rollag [Walton, 2023.05.08].

Over four years, and all you have to show is an option on Madison land? Come on: work equals force times distance—i.e., you apply your efforts, and they get you somewhere. However, there appears to be no physical plant on the ground (or in the water—here, shrimpy shrimpy shrimpy!) that puts Tru Shrimp any closer to making shrimp in Madison than it was before 2019. Tru Shrimp hasn’t been working; it’s been fostering wishful thinking.

Related Reversal: Last December, Tru Shrimp withdrew its initial public offering:

Due to prevailing market conditions, the Company has determined not to utilize the Registration Statement for an initial public offering at this time. The Registration Statement has not been declared effective by the Commission, and no securities were sold or will be sold under the Registration Statement. Therefore, withdrawal of the Registration Statement is consistent with the public interest and the protection of investors, as contemplated by paragraph (a) of Rule 477 under the Securities Act [Michael Ziebell, CEO, Tru Shrimp, Application for Withdrawal, letter to U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Division of Corporate Finance, 2022.12.09].

16 Comments

  1. sx123 2023-05-09

    If I start the competing Fals Shrimp company by Pelican Lake can I get a bunch of free money/land too? It will provide 61 jobs and construction will start in 2030.

  2. P. Aitch 2023-05-09

    “Does the idea of South Dakota seafood match the sea’s rough and wild character, or does it lack the salty, briny taste of the ocean?”

  3. e platypus onion 2023-05-09

    Tru Shrimp = alternate facts Shrimp = incompetent magat leadership

  4. Loren 2023-05-09

    I hope the shrimp have the “salty, briny taste of the ocean,” and not that of Lake Madison. ;-)

  5. Eve Fisher 2023-05-09

    Just a reminder, in 2019 I and my friend, “Dark Ally”, went to Balaton, MN, to see the famous (and only operating) Tru-Shrimp facility there – Well, I wrote a blog post about it, and I’ve attached a link. The entire Balaton facility is contained in an old school, which certainly doesn’t look (from the inside or outside) as if it’s producing millions of pounds of shrimp. Indeed, the only shrimp we saw were the 5 or 6 shrimp bobbing around in a standard-sized home aquarium. And there are still no other Tru-Shrimp facilities. And Ziebell says that the money invested by the State of South Dakota (“$6.5 million in taxpayer dollars for a low-interest loan for the Tru Shrimp project this winter, including $5.5 million directly from the governor’s Future Fund” – not to mention how much in private investment?) “will become stock in the Tru Shrimp company”? Boy, the Tru-Shrimp folks saw South Dakota coming, didn’t it?

    https://www.sleuthsayers.org/search?q=little+shrimp+on+the+prairie

  6. Mark Anderson 2023-05-09

    Gosh, people will flock to buy shrimp produced in Lake Madison, South Dakota. I’m sure. Send them more money.

  7. P. Aitch 2023-05-09

    @Eve – You’re such a talented writer. Read your article the first time you gave the link and it certainly clarified what’s going on with this creation.
    Thanks for posting it again. Keep up the good creativity and responsible journalism.

  8. Eve Fisher 2023-05-09

    Thanks P.Aitch.

  9. All Mammal 2023-05-09

    Omg. When you think it can’t get any skankier in SD….we get snookered by the shrimp guys?! Judy Trudy and Gertie, have mercy.
    I can totally picture the farm tub Ms. Fisher describes with the nasty little shrimp bobbers. Yeeesh.

  10. Page James 2023-05-09

    I just hope this doesn’t turn out like that thing in Platte a few years back when a money from the government scam was exposed.

  11. Jenny 2023-05-09

    The State of MN should sue Tru Shrimp. AG Ellison is not afraid to fight sleazy corporations.

  12. Kevin Isenberg 2023-05-09

    Have any of you tried shrimp from there or are just tossing out your options? Because I live in a town within 30 miles of there and have eaten the shrimp that a lot of people around here think is better than almost any shrimp they have bought someplace else. I agree with them. Don’t knock it until you tried it. I have friends that work there and know many people who think highly about the company.

  13. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2023-05-10

    Kevin, are you saying you’ve eaten Tru Shrimp products? If so, and if those shrimp are so tasty, why isn’t Tru Shrimp finding a market and investors to get its project in Madison off the ground…er, water?

  14. John 2023-05-11

    Segue for a bit a good rural economic news.
    The US beef herd is at a 60 year low. Livestock groaners rail of increased feed costs. Malarkey.
    People decided to eat healthier. People are sick and tired off beef laden with hormones and artificial infections. Fewer beef cattle means cleaner streams, cleaner air.
    Glance at the scope of the effect that a 60 year low means. In 1963 the US population was about 189.3 million. The US population in 2023 is about 334.2 million.
    The US population nearly doubled in those 60 years. The demise of the livestock industry is in the early stages of its exponential decline.
    https://www.reuters.com/markets/us/shrinking-us-cattle-herd-squeezes-meatpacker-profits-2023-05-04/

  15. chris 2023-05-13

    Stupid is as stupid maybe might do if in fact the loans are all approved

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