By Associated Press - Thursday, August 20, 2015

PLATTSMOUTH, Neb. (AP) - A Plattsmouth couple has launched three separate companies to capitalize on every aspect of hops, from growing the crop to processing and packaging it.

Bruce and Annette Wiles celebrated Wednesday with a ribbon cutting ceremony at their Nebraska Hop Yards, which is on the site of a former golf club along U.S. Highway 75.

The couple is investing $3.5 million in site improvements, construction of hops harvesting, drying and pelletizing operation and other buildings and equipment. The project is expected to create as many as 20 jobs.

Lt. Gov. Mike Foley attended the ceremony and said developing the crop strengthens the state’s agribusiness profile. He called the Wiles’ efforts an “exciting venture,” adding that the state was happy to pitch in with a $50,000 grant to help get them started.

The Nebraska Department of Economic Development grant was used to build custom mobile harvesting equipment. The couple also has applied for tax credit incentives for new and expanding businesses through the Nebraska Advantage Act.

The idea for the Wiles to start a hop yard came from the owners of Nebraska Brewing Company in Papillion. With Annette’s business experience and Bruce’s farming experience, for them, growing hops commercially made sense.

They spent about nine months researching, visiting other hop yards and talking to horticulture experts. They bought the 60-acre former country club/golf course and in the spring planted 22 varieties of hops to experiment and learn which do best in eastern Nebraska’s soil and climate.

They say they’re working on another hop yard that’ll be roughly 12 acres, which they plan to plant this fall.

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