Western Sugar announced last year it planned to close the manufacturing operation in Torrington, Wyo., as new manufacturing operations came online in Scottsbluff and Fort Morgan, Colo. this fall.
Work has been completed on Western Sugar’s High Plains construction project, which will allow the Scottsbluff factory to process 8,200 tons of beets daily.
Area Ag Manager Jerry Darnell said the new, more efficient equipment shipped from overseas and placed into the area adjacent to East Overland is the reason for the improvement.
He said much of the construction includes equipment that will not be housed inside a building, which may lead to confusion that the project is not complete.
Western Sugar did test loads early in September and were on track to start processing beets on Sept. 15. “Torrington factory will continue to operate for a time this fall, the plan is 30 to 60 days, processing all of the beets purchased in the Torrington and Wheatland, Wyo. Areas,” Darnell said.
The City of Torrington was informed of lay-offs Sept. 19, at their local Western Sugar. The announcement would mean 86 full-time employees and 200 seasonal laborers hired during the sugar beet harvest season would be laid off on Nov. 14.
Goshen County Economic Development Director Ashley Harpsteith said there could be some variables on that date.
“Western Sugar indicated they are expanding their warehouse operation in Torrington, including the powdered sugar line that is already operating,” Harpstreith said. “After the campaign they will be expanding the workers in that area from the nine currently employed to 22 or possible more.”
Harpstreith says Wyoming Workforce Development and her organization will also be working to re-train those who lost jobs so they can gain employment at other existing businesses or any coming in to Torrington.
The closure will also effect Torrington’s contract with Nebraska Municipal Power Pool, as one-third of the electricity allotted to Torrington was consumed by Western Sugar and Wyoming Ethanol, which closed in 2015. This is a major problem for the City of Torrington. The city must pay for the allocation whether it can sell the electricity to residents and businesses or not. If the City of Torrington cannot reach an agreement with the distributor, it could mean higher electric rates to Torrington residents, and the farmers and residents outside the city limits who get their electricity from Torrington.