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After promising hundreds of jobs, Ultra Green shuts down Devils Lake plant

Ultra Green, a Devils Lake manufacturer of biodegradable packaging products, has closed less than two years after opening, leaving about 20 employees without jobs.

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Ultra Green , a Devils Lake manufacturer of biodegradable packaging products, has closed less than two years after opening, leaving about 20 employees without jobs.
While a couple of employees were still at the plant this week, the plant has not been open since July 2, according to Rachel Lindstrom, executive director of Forward Devils Lake, the city’s economic development agency.
The closure leaves in limbo about $2 million the city invested in the project , in which Ultra Green used to purchase the former Noodles by Leonardo pasta plant in Devils Lake’s west end industrial park.
“We are currently in legal negotiations with them,” Lindstrom said.
Under the financial package between the city and the company, the city agreed to pay Ultra Green $1,000 per job created -- above the initial 100 jobs -- annually for 10 years.
The company estimated it would employ 100 employees by the end of its first year of production, and 300 to 350 within three to five years.
A year ago, a company official estimated it would reach the 100-employee mark by early in 2015 and 150 workers by the end of the year.
At its peak, however, the company employed about 40 in Devils Lake, according to Lindstrom.
Ultra Green, based in Plymouth, Minn., was established in 2007, originally contracting with factories in China to produce eco-friendly pizza boxes, takeout containers and other paper-like products from sugar cane and bamboo.
In 2012, Ultra Green announced it would move its plant to Devils Lake, switching the raw material from sugar cane to wheat straw, which it would purchase from farms in the region.
At its maximum production, the company had estimated it would process 25,000 to 40,000 bales of wheat straw annually.
Devils Lake officials already have had inquiries from other businesses interested in occupying the building, which is owned by Ultra Green, according to Lindstrom.
“We’re just hopeful we’ll have a positive outcome from this,” she said.
Calls to Ultra Green’s Plymouth headquarters Wednesday were not immediately returned.

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