LINCOLN, Neb.- Noah's Ark Processors, with its recent acquisition of a bankrupt beef processing operation, hopes to keep the challenged firm, Nebraska Prime, afloat, which includes a slaughter plant in Hastings and a processing facility in Lincoln. While the Hastings plant is currently operating with approximately 300 employees, the Dawson, Minn.-based owner hopes to reopen the Lincoln plant later this year, according to a report in the Lincoln Journal Star. That facility was closed in 2009 just prior to the previous operator, Premium Protein, filing for bankruptcy in 2010.

Noah's foreclosed on both plants, assuming a $7 million debt from the two facilities, which were reportedly bought out of bankruptcy by two business partners  in March 2010 for $3.9 million. However, according to the Star, disputes between the partners led to more business troubles for the plants and the Hastings plant was also closed temporarily but was reopened under new ownership and a new name: Nebraska Prime. 

"If we're able to continue the current high demand for our product, we'll be looking to open the Lincoln facility for more processing," Ephraim Bulow, a Colorado attorney representing Noah's Ark told the Journal Star. "Right now the economics just don't justify it, but we're hoping that will change. We're not looking to sell it, but we're not ready to reopen." 

According to the Journal Star, the Lincoln plant won't likely reopen in the first half of the year, Bulow said. "But going past that, we have some optimism to become a working plant in Lincoln and have a significant number of employees there. If we can't get there, then we'd look to sell the plant."