PIPESTONE — Representatives from St. Michael-based J&B Group announced Wednesday night that it will close its plant in Pipestone.

Operations currently taking place in Pipestone will move to St. Michael.

The Pipestone meat processing plant employs about 145 people, and J&B has offered to find placements at other jobs in other J&B locations. However, this isn't a viable option for all of them, said Erica Volkir, executive director of the Pipestone Area Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau.

Volkir said many J&B employees have put down roots in Pipestone. They may have kids in school, attend local churches or own homes. For those who choose not to move, the Chamber will make efforts to help them find new jobs that allow them to stay in Pipestone.

"They're an asset to our community, and we don't want to lose them," she said. She also noted that this is not the first time a major employer has left Pipestone. When events like this happen, "the community comes together. They support (the employees). They rally.

"Anytime you have a longstanding major employer (leave), there's going to be a ripple effect," Volkir added. The entire community of Pipestone will be affected by J&B's departure.

"It's very sad to see them go," she said. J&B has been active in supporting community service projects and humanitarian efforts.

Volkir also noted that the location and facility are ideal for another business to purchase and use. J&B is right on a major highway and across from the municipal airport. The building is in great shape and has been improved significantly during its life. Additionally, Volkir said, the site falls within an Opportunity Zone — an area designated by the U.S. Department of the Treasury as a place where investors are eligible for federal capital gains tax advantages. The hope is that someone will take advantage of these benefits and bring a new business to Pipestone.