A major business could be coming to Grafton in the near future. A deal is nearly complete for an Asian Carp processing plant to be constructed along the river, with a Chinese company lined up to purchase the product. The Asian Carp was once seen as an invasive species for the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers, but could now turn into a cash crop.
American Heartland Fish Products LLC is the name of the new business that recently closed on property along Route 3 near the confluence of the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers. The company is close to signing a deal with China State Farm to provide about 35 million pounds of the fish over a three year contract. There are other Chinese companies also reportedly interested in the product, and owners will be meeting with representatives in the coming weeks. The company is working with the state of Illinois and the city of Grafton as it moves forward, and is hopeful of creating a number of permanent jobs for the region as well as providing a shot in the arm for the local commercial fishing industry. The Asian Carp have been a growing problem over the last decade and are considered a nuisance to native fish in Illinois waterways. American Heartland Fish Products is owned by Gray Magee, Bryon LeBeau, Oliver Ready and Ben Allen, all of Grafton.