MASON CITY, Iowa – Prestage Foods of Iowa recently launched a charm offensive on the residents of Mason City, where the community is divided for and against Prestage’s plans to build a pork processing plant in the area.

In March, Prestage Farms announced plans to build a new fresh pork processing facility in Mason City in conjunction with the creation of Prestage Foods of Iowa, LLC. Members of the local city council already approved the framework necessary to bring the plant to Mason City. The next step is to consider incentives for the company.

Meanwhile, residents opposed to the plant have attended council meetings to express their concerns. The topic will be addressed at another council meeting today. Prestage, in a statement, said the company is willing to address concerns voiced by citizens.

“… the company is acutely aware of the concerns of citizens and community partners regarding the potential for future development of hog confinements near communities and important waterways,” the company said. “Prestage Farms has included language in the Development Agreement guaranteeing the company will not build or operate any hog confinements within 2.5 miles of the city limits of the City of Mason City, the City of Clear Lake, or surrounding Clear Lake itself.”

Additionally, the company committed $1.4 million over 10 annual installments to Mason City Public Schools as part of “the company’s commitment to ensure that they are a positive community steward.”

“While I cannot speak for the Board, from my perspective this is a wonderful commitment from Prestage Foods that shows their desire to be an important community partner,” School Superintendent Anita Micich said in a statement. “These funds will assist the schools in our planning and preparation for new students and any challenges that may bring. We are excited about the possibilities and look forward to providing all of our students with the best education possible.”

Prestage wants to build a 650,000-sq.-ft. facility with a capacity to slaughter 10,000 hogs per day. As many as 1,000 workers will be employed at the facility to operate one shift with possibility of expanding to a second shift in the future. Prestage expects the plant project to cost more than $240 million with an annual payroll of more than $40 million.