Plans to build a pork processing plant at the former John Morrell site are up in the air due to the developer's concerns about the construction costs and the health of the pork industry, Mayor Bob Scott said.
"It's obvious the project is on hold," Scott told the Journal editorial board this week.
Officials for Global Foods Processing had expected to break ground by this summer on a 82,000-square-foot manufacturing and cold storage facility that would have added production capacity and nearly doubled the Sioux City-based company's employment.
Scott said Global Foods owner David Guest told him about three weeks ago that he is reassessing the project. The change came after construction bids came in higher than expected and the outlook for the pork industry dimmed.
"I think the construction numbers caught him off guard and the industry numbers caught him even more off guard," Scott told the editorial board. "He's still trying to evaluate what he wants to do."
Calls to Guest from the Journal were not immediately returned late Thursday.
Since Scott's most recent conversation with Guest, the severe drought gripping wide swaths of the Midwest has worsened. Smaller-than-anticipated corn harvests are causing livestock feed prices to spiral upward, raising industry fears that pork prices will increase as more cash-scrapped producers sell off their herds.
"I'm guessing it isn't getting any better for him right now," Scott said of the industry conditions.
The Global Foods project is the centerpiece of the city's plans to redevelop the former Morrell land as a heavily landscaped business park. The city acquired the 23-acre site, bounded by Interstate 29, Cunningham Drive and the Floyd River, after Morrell shuttered its hog slaughter plant in April 2010, eliminating more than 1,400 jobs.
Last fall, the antiquated packinghouse was razed, removing a long-standing eyesore positioned on the city's front door. A $2 million federal grant financed the city's demolition and cleanup costs.
The city also pledged its own financial incentives, which were to tied to Global's projected capital investment and job creation.
Global had planned to construct a 67,000-square-foot plant on 10 acres. The complex, which was projected to take eight to nine months to build, was projected to create up to 170 new jobs in the first two years of operation...
Source: Argentine Beef Packers S.A.
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