TAMA - Tama County Economic Development Director Heath Kellogg feels the employment market in the area has needed a boost for several years.
With the proposed opening of the Iowa Premium Beef packing plant at the site of the former Tama Pack facility, he feels that boost can be achieved.
The IPB project is still wrapping up financing and moving forward on the construction phase. There is no exact timeline on when it will be open.
T-R PHOTO BY ANDREW POTTER
The opening date of Iowa Premium Beef at the site of the former Tama Pack in Tama is still unknown. Renovation work continues on the facility.
When it is complete, the first phase would allow for an 800 head per day kill and employ 650 people. The company then hopes to advance to a second phase and a 2,000 head kill operation, which could reach 1,000 jobs.
"It's paramount," Kellogg said of the need for this facility and its jobs in Tama County. "It's what we've working for since I've been here."
A new roof was put on the facility in January and more renovation work is in progress.
The county's biggest employer is the Meskwaki Hotel and Casino. Kellogg said the new packing plant would serve as another anchor for the employment base.
"To do that again is extremely important," Kellogg said.
Steve Armstrong, president of Iowa Premium Beef, said they are "a long way from getting things started" at the plant in a story in a recent issue of the Tama News-Herald.
Kellogg said this packing plant would be unique and would not be like the mass quantity kill plants out there. Iowa Premium Beef would focus on custom processing and more specialty brands.
"This is a going to be a very different model and really fit a niche that is not being filled right now," Kellogg said.
Since there has been so many starts and stops on the project through the years, Kellogg said members of the community are "cautiously optimistic" about the future of the plant.
Kellogg said the leadership team in place has decades of years of experience in the meat packing business, which brings credibility to the project.