A business expert in northwest Iowa fears the announcement of the closing of the John Morrell meat-packing plant in Sioux City will have a far-reaching impact that could hurt the entire region. Sam Clovis of Morningside College in Sioux City says the economic blow from the plant’s shut down will be serious.
“You can see what’s going to happen when you have that type of facility close down, the ancillary income that’s associated with a $300-million payroll,” Clovis says. “That disappears and you multiply that seven times over for the multiplier in the community, plus, we’re going to have people leaving. From an economic perspective, that’s pretty easy to measure and it’ll be dramatic.”
Clovis says the impact of the loss of almost 1,500 jobs will extend far beyond Sioux City. He says the closing points out some of the weaknesses of the area. “We sit in a part of the state where we suffer under the onus of a very unfriendly business atmosphere in the state of Iowa compared to our neighbors, compared to South Dakota which is the number-two business state in the union,” Clovis says.
“We do compare more favorably with Nebraska but even Nebraska has a much more favorable business index than Iowa.” Clovis says economic development has to be diversified to help the area regain its lost momentum. He says Iowa needs to create a better business environment, as does the Siouxland area, “to keep this kind of thing from happening again” and to attract new businesses. He says the region has great potential, being a crossroads for the ag industry, having a great interstate system and being on the Missouri River.
The John Morrell plant will close in April. It currently slaughters about ten-thousand head of hogs a day. Clovis is chair of the Business Administration and Economics Department at Morningside.
By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton