CHEROKEE, Iowa (KCAU) – People in one Siouxland town are celebrating new hope for their community. A Cherokee food manufacturing plant that once employed hundreds of people has a new owner.
The food plant in Cherokee dates back to 1968. Tyson Foods was a huge part of Cherokee for more than a decade. When the company left, the town was devastated. Now, new life for that plant has a lot of people talking.
“The town is really excited. We need it. We need some more businesses. We need some more people,” said Sherry Wylchester, a waitress at Gasthaus Bar and Grill.
In 2014, Tyson Foods caught the community of Cherokee off guard when it announced it was closing the plant.
“It was devastating when the plant closed, and for four years, the plant sat idle until Iowa Food Group came forward. [They] purchased the plant in September of 2018, began their production for about a six week period until they ran into some issues with capital, which closed the plant again in a very short period of time,” said Anderson.
Just days after Iowa Food Group announced the plant’s closure, Economic Development executive director Bill Anderson jumped into action.
“My first conversation with Lopez Foods would have been April of this year. So honestly, within a couple of days of Iowa Food Groups announcing that they were closing to recapitalize, I had begun talking with Lopez Foods. Made that connection between Lopez Foods and the Iowa Food Group, and I guess the rest is history,” said Anderson.
It won’t be Lopez Foods’ first time in Cherokee.
“This plant when it was Continental Deli, IBP, Tyson Foods produced Canadian bacon for Lopez Foods,” said Anderson.
“I’m so excited I can’t wait till they open up! It’s going to be good-paying jobs for the people they are gonna give them health insurance,” said Wylchester.
Phase one for the plant will bring 35 to 50 jobs, but Anderson said many more jobs will be added as the facility grows.
“I think there hasn’t been a person I’ve talked to that’s not excited for what that will bring to our community,” said Barb Mallison, the manager at Gasthaus Bar and Grill.
Lopez Foods will start by renovating the original 1968 portion of the plant. A ribbon-cutting for that is expected next spring.