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Big changes are coming
April 7, 2017

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A section of the Iowa that has been losing population and experiencing less robust economic growth than the Hawkeye State as a whole is about to get a boost. Prestage Foods of Iowa's more than $240 million pork processing plant - now under construction near Eagle Grove - will have a massive impact not only on Wright County, but also on a 10-county region of north central Iowa.

Helping reverse a stagnant job picture in Wright and nearby counties will be one major consequence of this huge corporate investment. According to Prestage, this new facility will employ a minimum of 922 people once fully operational. It is estimated that once fully online the venture will support 4,446 jobs statewide of which 3,781 will be in 10 counties - Calhoun, Franklin, Hamilton, Hardin, Humboldt, Kossuth, Palo Alto, Pocahontas, Webster and Wright.

For this part of Iowa, the overall long-term ramifications of the Prestage plant are enormous. During the construction phase alone, in addition to supporting 2,310 jobs, the undertaking will generate $335.2 million in increased sales activity, according to the Goss researchers. They calculate that during the plant's first five years in operation the cumulative impact on sales activity will reach $6.8 billion.

The region's population will increase as workers move to Wright and other close-by counties to become employees of Prestage and the many other businesses that will thrive thanks to the spending boom that will unfold over the next few years. One study forecasts an increase of 2,103 people in Webster County, 1,253 in Hamilton County and 1,188 in Wright County after construction and one-year of plant operation.

Just about every component of the region's economy will change as a result of the arrival of Prestage. There will need to be more housing, businesses will serve more shoppers, roadways will be busier, health care facilities will serve more patients and school enrollments will increase. It's hard to think of any business or public service activity that will not see an impact.

Some of this will increase the cost of operating schools, public safety and other government programs. The economic growth, however, will also increase tax revenues to support these expenditures.

Farm News welcomes Prestage Foods of Iowa. Much positive economic growth has taken place in Webster County thanks to an impressive collaboration of the public and private sectors spearheaded by the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance.

We are confident that the further boost the Prestage investment will bring about will help stimulate prosperity in the years ahead.

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