Wright County is proposed to be the new site of a pork processing facility, county officials announced last week. The Wright County Board of Supervisors touted the benefits of the proposed Prestage Foods of Iowa processing facility during a press conference in Clarion.

The county approached Prestage Foods after Mason City officials rejected the proposed plant, said Stan Watne (pictured above), chair of the Wright County Board of Supervisors.

"Wright County has been proactive in our support of agriculture-related businesses, and we were one of 19 communities that reached out to Prestage Foods when they indicated their interest in building their new, state-of-the-art pork processing facility in Iowa," Watne said. "We look forward to the creation of 900 new jobs and the $240 million investment in our county."

Watne said the processing facility was a good fit for Wright County because of its proximity to pigs. The proposed location for the plant is 5 miles south of Eagle Grove on Highway 17.

"The site was chosen as it is at the center of hog production in Iowa with 6.5 million hogs marketed within 250 miles of this plant," Watne said.

Prestage Foods of Iowa would buy 40 percent of the hogs from local, independent farmers, the company said in a release. The facility would employ more than 900 full-time workers and would operate one 10-hour shift per day, five days a week, with some occasional Saturdays, the company said. The company would be able to process 10,000 hogs per shift.

The proposed site is also close to several towns, which could handle the 900-plus full-time employees the plant is expected to employ, said Bryce Davis, economic director in Wright County.

"We found a perfect site for them (Prestage Foods of Iowa). Obviously, with the population growth, 900-plus new jobs is a lot to handle for any community in Wright County. That’s why we took a site that could disperse the population naturally," Davis said. "So Fort Dodge, Webster City, Eagle Grove, all of those towns will see some sort of benefit, but they wouldn’t have such a large impact that it would overwhelm the city."

Besides the economic benefits associated with the processing facility, Davis said the plant would bring other ancillary businesses that would attract more people to the county.

"There will be a lot of supporting industries with trucking, cold storage, catering, lots of things of that nature that will help this plant and our current industries. Those are additional impacts and additional jobs," Davis said.

Watne said the facility is a good opportunity for the county to attract and keep more residents.

"In the 23 years I’ve been here, this is one of the biggest projects I’ve been involved in. This really has a lot of potential," Watne said.

Pending local and state ap­­proval, Prestage Foods of Iowa is scheduled to begin construction this fall. The plant would be operational in 2018, Davis said. A public hearing is scheduled for July 25 at the Wright County Courthouse in Clarion.