In 1980 an Italian-American entrepreneur from St. Paul, Minnesota,
Leonard Gasparre, started Noodles by Leonardo in Cando, North Dakota.
"He proved value-added agriculture works," says Bob Denison, editor
and publisher, Towner County Record Herald.
Gasparre built the country's first integrated mill/pasta plant.
The firm purchases milling-quality durum wheat grown in surrounding
counties and mills it into semolina, pasta's main ingredient. The
plant then converts the semolina into 35 different pasta products
and packages them for shipping throughout the United States.
Adding value to North Dakota durum wheat has worked for Noodles
by Leonardo, as well as for Cando. The company began with 90 workers
and today employs nearly 300. Demand for its pasta has surpassed
the Cando plant's capacity, and in fall 1992 a second plant opened
in Devils Lake.
Noodles by Leonardo stabilized the Cando economy during the difficult
1980s when North Dakota agriculture suffered, Denison says. Cando's
population increased from 1,496 in 1980 to 1,564 in 1990, making
it one of the few North Dakota rural communities to gain population
in the 1980s.
The surrounding area has also benefited. The area's farmers now
have an additional source of demand for their milling-quality durum
wheat, says Dave Speare, plant manager. Noodles by Leonardo also
provides those rural workers with a source for employment. Most
of its workers live within 26 miles of the plant, but some come
from as far away as 60 miles, Speare says.