MASON CITY, Iowa – Prestage Foods no longer is considering Mason City as a site for a proposed pork processing plant. Despite efforts on behalf of the company to bring the plant to Mason City, further efforts would be counterproductive, Prestage said in a statement.
“It is clear that this project exposed deep divisions among the citizens of Mason City,” the company noted. “Since the May 2 vote, we have evaluated alternative sites both inside and outside of Iowa for this processing plant. Our belief remains that this plant is needed for the industry and will be a valuable addition to the appropriate community."
On May 2, the city council members met for seven hours to discuss a measure to provide Prestage incentives to build a $240 million pork processing plant. Prestage proposed building a 650,000-sq.-ft. pork processing facility with a capacity to slaughter 10,000 hogs per day. The new facility represented about 1,000 new jobs for the city with the possibility of expanding to a second shift.
Residents who opposed the project voiced concerns about wastewater and odor in addition to possible impacts on property values and social services needed to accommodate new residents. To ease tensions, Prestage agreed to not build or operate any hog facilities within 2.5 miles of the city limits of Mason City, Clear Lake, or surrounding Clear Lake.
Additionally, the company committed $1.4 million over 10 annual installments to Mason City Public Schools, to no avail. The council voted 3-3 on the measure, which represented a loss.
“We are grateful to the local and state elected officials, city and county employees, business and education leaders, farmers and everyday citizens who offered their support,” Prestage said. “Obviously, we did not adequately address the misinformation campaign that our opponents effectively used to influence public opinion.
“We will learn from this experience; we hope Mason City will do the same. We have met many great people during our time in Mason City, and we wish great success with future growth efforts,” the company concluded.