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‘Significant Threat’: Small-Town Mayor Blocks Proposed Chinese Mill Near Military Base

Mayor Bochenski, City of Grand Forks, North Dakota

By Trevor Schakohl for Daily Caller News Foundation

The mayor of Grand Forks, North Dakota, announced an effort Tuesday to stop the Chinese Fufeng Group from building a corn mill that Air Force Assistant Secretary Andrew Hunter said “presents a significant threat to national security,” according to The Wall Street Journal.

Hunter said in a Friday letter the Defense Department regards the proposed mill project as presenting “near- and long-term risks of significant impacts to our operations in the area,” despite the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. ruling in December that it lacked jurisdiction to assess the Fufeng Group’s Grand Forks undeveloped land purchase, the outlet reported. Grand Forks Mayor Brandon Bochenski declared Tuesday he would act to bar mill development measures including building permits, with city council approval pending.

Some have argued the mill project could be used for espionage against the Grand Forks Air Force Base, according to the Grand Forks Herald. The base is located less than 20 miles from the city of Grand Forks.

“The response from the Federal Government during this process can only be viewed as slow and contradictory,” Bochenski said, according to the outlet. Grand Forks officials previously argued the mill development would drive up taxrevenue.

Republican North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum expressed support for Grand Forks starting to act against the project, the WSJ reported. Both he and Bochenski spoke positively about the project when the Fufeng Group’s choice of the Grand Forks location was announced in Nov. 2021.

Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corporation President and CEO Keith Lund had said they expected the project’s phase one construction to employ up to 1,000 workers for three years and the operational facility to generate 233 direct jobs and 525 indirect jobs. Bochenski and the Fufeng Group did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s requests for comment.

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