Funding from the state was approved for a fish processing plant in Grafton earlier this summer, but the hold-up is now in the hands of the federal government. The owners are awaiting approval of a HUD grant, after which, they can begin renovating a large building that was formerly used to store apples at the former Uncle Andy's Orchard on Illinois State Route 3.
The project will be environmentally conscious, and the focal point of a new industrial park. An agreement with a group of Chinese businessmen calls for the plant to harvest and ship between 30 and 40 million pounds of the fish over the course of a three year contract. Grafton Mayor Tom Thompson says even with the delays, the Chinese are still on-board.
American Heartland Fish Products LLC of Grafton, Falcon Protein Products from Birmingham, Alabama and the Chinese Group are the partners in the deal. Thompson says he was told the HUD approval could come sometime this week.