|Minatare chops meat packing plant proposal|
|May 20, 2016 Jerry Purvis|
Deciding it would no longer support a proposal to bring a meatpacking plant to the town, the Minatare City Council made the decision official at its May 17 meeting.
Minatare had been eyed as a site for the plant for about a year. Council members approved the proposal at its June 16, 2015, meeting, passing the measure by a 3-1 vote.
This past August, council members agreed to a Memorandum of Understanding with local investors in F2E Global, LLC, the company that would build the plant. Under terms of the agreement, once the investment group completed all the governmental and environmental paperwork, which was estimated to take up to two years, the city agreed it would annex a proposed site in east Minatare for the plant. The council was also set to approve Tax Increment Financing to help fund the project. That memorandum was set to expire in August 2016.
In an exclusive to the Gering Citizen on April 8, Morrill County stock feeders Pete Lapaseotes and Leo Hoehn, two of the partners in the investment group F2E Global LLC, said they would no longer be involved in supporting the project.
At the time, Lapaseotes said, “Due to the amount of time that has gone by without any progress being made, it’s in our best interest and the community’s best interest to not go forward.”
At Tuesday’s council meeting, Mayor Jerry Harms said he wouldn’t support moving ahead with the proposal without the support of local investors. “If they’re out of it, and as far as I’m concerned, we should be out of it.”
Harms received a letter dated May 5, from Jack Kim, Chairman and CEO of F2E. Kim said he wanted to follow up “in light of recent media accounts which could lead to an inaccurate impression regarding F2E Global’s ongoing commitment to construct a state-of-the-art livestock processing facility for this region.”
The letter also said, F2E was both surprised and disappointed by the actions and statements made by Lapaseotes and Hoehn, which could be misinterpreted.
Kim’s letter made clear he still had plans for Minatare, along with several other potential sites he had identified. He asked Minatare to continue its pursuit of Tax Increment Financing in accordance with the memorandum of agreement.
Council Member Marcella Kreiling said F2E’s past record with opening packing plants in the region has been financially troubling, therefore couldn’t support staying with the project.
Council Member Bob Baldwin added, “It would be lovely to have the plant here, but they seem to be trying to squeeze us into a position where I don’t think we should be caught.”
Council members voted unanimously to send a letter to Jack Kim informing him the city was no longer interested in the project.
“It just seems pointless to continue without any local investment,” said council member Trevor Schwartz. “That’s why I voted to back away from it entirely.”