Kemin Industries Inc., which makes nutritional ingredients, announced a $30 million expansion Tuesday that will add about 100 jobs at its headquarters in Des Moines.
The five-year expansion includes six new manufacturing buildings, three new research facilities and a new corporate headquarters at its campus on the city's southeast side. The project is to begin later this year and be completed in 2014. The new jobs will be in research and development, finance, marketing and manufacturing.
"It's my goal to have one of our molecules in your body by the end of the day," said President and Chief Executive Officer Chris Nelson. "To do that we have to manufacture products here in Des Moines and at our other manufacturing sites that are able to add value and nutritional content to human foods as well as animal foods throughout the world."
The expansion is critical to that goal, Nelson said. The private, family owned company is also evaluating opportunities in Brazil, Russia, India and China.
Kemin, which has about 320 employees in Des Moines, makes about 500 ingredients with nutritional and health benefits that it sells to about 400 companies around the world, which make food, pet food and pharmaceuticals.
Nelson said Kemin isolated the molecule for the antioxidant lutein from marigold flowers. Research has suggested lutein has a role in eye health and reducing the risk of age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of vision loss.
The Des Moines project will be built mostly on city-owned land, with the expansion along a new expressway from near downtown to southern Des Moines. Nelson said the company was out of space in Des Moines but decided to stay, in part because of a research and development tax credit approved by the Legislature.
"That credit has basically made Iowa competitive with a number of our other locations, for instance in China and India," he said.
Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie said Kemin's decision to stay shows Des Moines is not a "flyover place."
"As a worldwide company, they could have been anywhere," he said. "With your expansion more and more into the world stage, it brings Des Moines also to that world stage."
Kemin was founded in 1961 on land purchased by Nelson's grandfather where he raised sheep. According to its web site, it now operates in more than 60 countries with manufacturing facilities in Belgium, Brazil, China, India, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand and the United States.