What Jeff Broin’s money couldn’t achieve, the economy apparently has.
Regional pork producer Wholestone Farms announced two years ago that it would spend $500 million to build a hog slaughterhouse in Sioux Falls and bring over a thousand jobs to South Dakota’s biggest metro. Certain rich Sioux Fallsians proposed a ballot measure to stop that project or any other new slaughterhouse from opening in the Queen City of the East and stinking up ethanol magnate Jeff Broin’s office and mansion.
To hedge its bet, Wholestone Farms opened a previously unplanned butcher shop on the site of its propsoed plant in northeast Sioux Falls last October. The ad hoc chop shop was meant to take advantage of a glaring loophole in the initiative that would have allowed existing meat vendors to expand their operations, if voters had approved the moratorium. But big spending from other rich guys and Big Ag and stumping from fickle meatpacker-lover Governor Kristi Noem helped defeat that slaughterhouse moratorium.
But now Wholestone Farms has closed its butcher shop:
The closure of this meager Sioux Falls storefront, along with Wholestone’s merger with an Iowa hog killer and dedication of a $25M USDA grant to expanding its Nebraska slaughterhouse, is sending a clear signal to Mayor Paul TenHaken, who was notably unexcited about this economic development from the start, that Wholestone Sioux Falls ain’t happening:
“Timing is everything in business,” TenHaken. “I think when the time is right, we’ll possibly see that plant expand, but we could also see it not happen either.”
TenHaken said he has not had a lot of communication with Wholestone Foods since the November election. He said market economics have changed since the election.
“I don’t see that plant being built anytime soon,” TenHaken said. “They haven’t communicated with us a lot as a city.”
TenHaken also pointed out building costs for a large pork processing plant have never been higher. He said high construction costs along with the Wholestone merger and agriculture conditions all play a factor [Eric Mayer and Lauren Soulek, “TenHaken Weighs in on Wholestone Butcher Shop Closure,” KELO-TV, 2023.03.22].
One might expect the generally buoyant TenHaken to preach optimism to boost his city’s chances of bringing jobs and money: The economy is tough, but Sioux Falls is still a great place to kill hogs! Great highway access, low business costs, low taxes, low regulation, and hey! Build that plant here in Sioux Falls, and I’ll bet we can find some cash from the city’s economic development funds and from my good friend Governor Noem to help ease your startup costs! One might reach for deeper conspiracy and think that TenHaken can’t let Wholestone go gently south, because without Wholestone, who will pick up the slack in pork production and hand-wrecking, soul-crushing labor in Sioux Falls when Governor Noem’s new “Evil Foreign Governments” bill (that’s the title she picked) morphs into new regulations that will force Chinese-owned meatpacker Smithfield to leave the state?
But TenHaken seems resigned to letting Wholestone go away and make the case for doing business in Iowa and Nebraska instead of South Dakota.
Everyone with at least one neuron knew this ‘butcher shop’ was not meant to last long.
I toured Morrel’s when I was eight. What was that about? Just PR? Don’t they do that anymore?
I heard Lennox is getting a butcher shop. What’s that all about?
Has any Sioux Falls mayor presided over as much violence as Mr. TenHaken has?
Willy – it’s just some guy who’s been doing butchery on his farm and wants to have a retail front – maybe get the mess away from the house? Wife complaining about the smells? Lennox had a butcher shop and lockers from its birth into the 1970’s. The whole town has undergone a process of transforming from being a rural farm-centric small town to almost entirely a bedroom exurb/ big welding shop since then. In the past 3-4 years residential and industrial growth is spurring some re-investment development in a retail revival on a small scale.
Richard, I get the impression that Lennox isn’t drawing quite as much big Sioux Falls money as Tea. Is that an accurate impression? Is Lennox still more small-town/blue-collar?
Maybe Wholestone should look at building its slaughterhouse in Lennox, if it has any capital and interest left in building a third facility after its Nebraska expansion and its Iowa merger.
Cory writes: “What Jeff Broin’s money couldn’t achieve, the economy apparently has.”
I love the capitalist economy when it kills off bad ideas. If we could only end Biden-Republican socialism for nuclear power, an entire industry would collapse of its own uneconomic weight.
Cory. There was an entity (I don’t think it was Wholestone) who di in fact propose building a slaughterhouse facility in Lennox’ Industrial park a couple years ago. After the community hew and cry against it – mostly centered not on smell or noise, but on “the kind of people” it would bring to town, the City Council denied it.
According to Census Bureau data, Lennox is a relatively wealthy town, vs. the likes of other small SD towns. Most of the people who live here DO NOT work here. Most of the people who work here DO NOT live here. There is very little “affordable housing” (rental/apartment) available that would accommodate people who are employed here for the wages they are employed here at. The majority of people who live here are 1. retired with a decent income/amount of wealth, 2. white collar workers (my neighbors are a young attorney and his CPA wife, for ex:). 3. independent business owners, and in fourth 4th blue collar folks. New housing that is being developed is more toward the upper/middle income scale than the lower income scale.
Every morning and every evening there is a “great exchange” of population and workers between Lennox and points North. The last time daily traffic counts were made on SD 17 (before it was abandoned to the county) that road was one of THE BUSIEST state highways in SD. More traffic to the main state routes into and out of Aberdeen, Watertown, Huron, Mitchell, Madison and so on.
Tea, on the other hand, has recently annexed substantial land right up to I-29 (which is 4 miles distant from Lennox) and going to an adjacency to the soon to be built 85th street off-ramp and it is developing rapidly. Lennox’ Development Corp has run out of land and is looking for more.