A new company called Iowa Food Group has purchased the former Tyson Foods deli meat plant in Cherokee, Iowa. The 250,000-sq.ft. plant will launch a further-processing meat business including beef, pork and poultry according to local media.
Iowa Food Group, with “Cherokee Packing Company” a label in the future, expects to begin operations in January with about 100 workers, with plans to increase to 500 workers as the business grows.
The deal comes after four years of community and business leaders struggling to revive a slow economy. Local city leaders had accused Tyson of holding the vacant processing plant “hostage” from economic development in the county. Tyson closed the plant in September 2014, taking 450 jobs with it. But Tyson refused to back out of their long term lease, continuing to pay $130,000 annually in rent, along with maintenance costs and taxes on the empty building. Tyson told city officials they would consider selling, but not to a competing firm.
In 2016, the Des Moines Register reported Tyson had entertained several offers from food companies but the offers fell apart. Tyson’s lease wouldn’t have expired until 2020, and Tyson could choose to renew it for an additional 15 years.
Tyson agreed to pay $400,000 to the current owner, New York real estate investor Mark Langfan’s family, to end its interest in the building.
The property sits on a 59-acre site. County records show Iowa Foods Group paid $2.35 million for the Cherokee plant.
Iowa Foods’ lawyer Mack Zimmerman says the corporation is composed mostly of Texas investors he wouldn't name, according to the Sioux City Journal.