Proposed pork plant could bring more than 300 jobs to Luverne
LUVERNE — Just six months after Gold’n Plump Poultry closed its doors, Premium Iowa Pork (PIP) is planning to transform the unoccupied Luverne facility into a pork processing plant.
The Hospers, Iowa pork producer intends to hire up to 325 full-time employees and process up to 2,200 antibiotic-free hogs per day once it completes renovations to the plant.
The Luverne Planning Commission recommended approval of a conditional use permit for the property on Monday. The Luverne City Council will vote on the CUP at its July 10 meeting and is expected to approve it.
Losing the chicken plant was a tough blow for the city and about 200 local workers, but soon after its closing on Dec. 29, 2017, multiple pork processors lined up with interest in purchasing the facility. PIP was the quickest, signing a letter of intent in March.
“We’re very fortunate that Gold’n Plump and Pilgrim’s Pride updated the plant over the time that they owned it to make it more energy efficient and keep on top of things,” said Luverne Mayor Pat Baustian. “Nowadays, it's much cheaper to buy a really good condition food processing plant used than building them new.”
PIP plans to make considerable renovations to the facility — to the tune of $25 million — to transform it into a pork plant. Under a handshake agreement with the city, PIP will also pay for an estimated $6.76 million in required upgrades to the city’s wastewater treatment facility, paying for half of the cost over five years. Initially, the city will allow PIP to slaughter up to 1,200 hogs a day before its system is up to the task.
“That’ll give them an opportunity to start out and give us time to get started with construction on our wastewater plant,” Baustian said.
PIP plans to build a 12,500-square-foot addition along with a full “kill floor.” If all goes to plan, the company would begin renovations this fall and begin production in 2019.
The Luverne plant would be PIP’s second slaughterhouse to go with its Hospers location, which employs more than 400 workers and slaughters more than 3,000 hogs per day.
Since 2005, PIP has processed all-natural pork, focusing on improved taste and safety. The company puts a big emphasis on cleanliness, and reportedly took major steps to ensure its Hospers plant doesn’t make a nasty smell.
During an unannounced visit to Hospers, Luverne city officials couldn’t smell any foul odors. They were impressed during an official tour of the plant as well.
“They run a pretty tight ship … you can’t find a cleaner facility,” Baustian said.
The reaction to the proposed plant has generally been positive, Baustian said, noting that no members of the community spoke out against the project during the public hearing at Monday’s meeting.