On July 5, Prestage Foods of Iowa LLC named Wright County in north central Iowa as the site for its new, state-of-the-art pork processing facility. The $240 million plant will create more than 900 full-time jobs, and will bring a $43 million boost to overall income in Wright County, as well as economic benefits to surrounding counties, the company said in a press release.
The announcement comes after plans to build the pork plant in Mason City in northern Iowa ran into strong opposition by local residents and fell through earlier this year. In a split vote, the city council of Mason City would not approve an agreement with Prestage, a North Carolina-based company.
Several reasons why this company is investing in Iowa
"We are investing in Iowa and specifically Wright County because we believe this plant is good for Iowa, good for agriculture and a good step forward for our family-owned-and-run business,” says Ron Prestage, division president. “Iowa is the nation’s leading pork producing state and currently produces more pigs than it can process. This plant will keep the value from processing pigs in this state."
The lowest paid workers will begin at more than $37,000 per year plus full benefits, he says. Average wages at the plant are expected to be more than $47,000. Construction is planned to begin in fall of 2016, pending finalization of county and state approvals. The plant is scheduled to be completed and to begin operating in mid-2018, with initially one shift.
Local businesses, community organizations, county leaders
"We are excited to have Prestage Foods of Iowa construct their first pork processing plant in Wright County,” says Bryce Davis, Wright County economic development director. “Agriculture is important to this county and to our state and we welcome the more than 900 new jobs and $240 million investment in this area.”
Davis says there is strong local support for the plant to be built in the county. “After discussions with the Iowa Economic Development Authority, Wright County Board of Supervisors, local business owners, community organizations, regional partners, schools and healthcare providers, we believe the plant will be an extremely positive addition to our community," he says.
Prestage has been raising pigs in Iowa for more than a decade
Prestage Farms has been raising pigs in Iowa for more than a decade and is located in 30 Iowa counties. The company plans to buy 40% of the hogs for the plant from independent farmers, creating a new market option for those farmers.
"Prestage fits well with Iowa because, like so many Iowans, our roots are in agriculture and we value our families and communities. Our commitment to local communities and our care for the environment and being good neighbors will continue,” promises Scott Prestage.
Plant will use new modern systems to protect the environment
The new plant will use state-of-the-art systems to clean the air, reduce water and energy needs, and provide a safe work environment, he says. The plant will use the most modern “air scrubbing” technology and incorporate a water reuse program, which reduces the overall need for water and wastewater treatment. The company also says the plant will use the latest innovations in processing and automation technology to help ensure it is a world leader in food, employee and environmental safety.
"We value our culture of care and concern for individuals. In our turkey processing plant that started in 2004, we have many employees who have been with us for more than a decade,” says John Prestage. “Our family and managers are in the plants, and employees are cross trained within departments and rotate through departments, which has been key to providing a positive work environment. We plan to do the same in the new pork processing plant."
Timing for this project works well with other county efforts
The Wright County Board of Supervisors discussed the Prestage project in meeting July 5. The board appointed supervisor Karl Helgevold as its representative while working with Prestage. “This Prestage project will be a tremendous boost for the economy in Wright County and the surrounding area,” says Helgevold. “Our economic development department has been working with local authorities to enhance the housing resources and the timing for this project will fit well with those plans that are already moving forward.” For more information visit www.prestagefoodsofiowa.com.
Related: Mason City torpedoes pork plant
About Prestage Farms, Inc.
It is a multi-generational family-owned and operated business started by Bill and Marsha Prestage in 1983. Mr. and Mrs. Prestage, along with their three sons, still own and actively operate this multifaceted business. Today, Prestage Farms, along with its affiliates, is a Top 5 producer of quality pork and turkey that employs more than 2,000 people company-wide, contracts with more than 450 farm families in seven states, and produces more than 1 billion pounds of meat annually. Prestage Farms, Inc. is headquartered in Clinton, NC, and has operations in Iowa, South Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama, Texas and Oklahoma.
PLANNED PLANT: Construction on the new Prestage hog processing facility is to begin in fall 2016, pending final county and state approvals. To be completed in mid-2018 and initially operating one shift, the plant will employ more than 900 people.