Hickenlooper visits RBC

Colorado governor John Hickenlooper was in Rio Blanco County Monday at the Natural Soda facility in the Piceance Basin for a groundbreaking ceremony on a $30 million expansion project. Colorado senator Jean White, Natural Soda V.P. Of Operations, Brad Bunnett, president of Natural Soda, HPD representative ?? and Summit Industry ?? and state representative Randy Baumgardner also attended the catered event.
Natural Soda held a groundbreaking ceremony for a $30 million expansion, which was attended by several local and state officials, including Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper.
“Today we stand here to break ground on a $30 million investment in not only a facility and our employees but the community here in western Colorado,” Brad Bunnett, president of Natural Soda Inc., told a large crowd gathered at the Natural Soda processing facility in the Piceance Basin. “Two thousand feet beneath us where we stand right now is a world class reserve of naturally occurring sodium bicarbonate and in the current facility we process, package and deliver to market more than 125,000 tons and the market continues to grow.”
Natural Soda has operated in Colorado for 28 years and currently employees 39 onsite employees, in addition to the contractors and vendors who provide services at the mine and truck drivers who transport the sodium bicarbonate.
Natural Soda processes sodium bicarbonate into several grades of baking soda used in baked goods, foods, industrial and pharmaceutical uses.
“It truly touches our lives everyday in ways we don’t imagine, it’s really an important product,” Bunnett said before introducing the governor. “There is tremendous growth in the markets and the time was right to make the investment. We are very pleased and excited about the opportunity ahead of us and the growth of the business.”
Governor John Hickenlooper was also excited that the timing of the Natural Soda project will allow them to double its annual production from the largest known deposits of sodium bicarbonate in North America.
“This is a happy day,” Hickenlooper said, thanking Bunnett, his staff, senator Jean White, representative Randy Baumgardner and Rio Blanco County commissioners Shawn Bolton, Ken Parsons and Kai Turner, all of whom were in attendance.
“This $30 million expansion comes at a time as we are just starting to come out of a recession, a time when we need to get construction going, trucks on the road, it couldn’t have come at a better time. The expansion will increase production yet lower harmful emissions,” Hickenlooper said. “This is another classic case of being pro-business and doing it right in reference to the environment but that’s Colorado, pro-business with high standards.”
“The facility we are planning to build will better represent the purity standards we are focused on and we are really excited about the growth that will occur and it will occur efficiently so we can operate here for a long time,” Bob Warneke, vice president of operations said about the new facility. “We will be able to better service the full baking soda market in North America and that is what we are trying to accomplish.
Warneke said HPD will be the general contractor and Summit Industrial Contruction will be the sub-contractor on the project. More than 70 individuals will be employed during construction and 10 new jobs will be created in the new facility.