Iowa Food Group shuts down plant

Major investor pulls plug, employees sent home


By Paul Struck, Cherokee Chronicle Times (IA)

April 10, 2019


The Iowa Food Group meat processing plant in Cherokee, in production since early February, has reportedly shut down after informing employees Tuesday morning.


The story being told by employees is that they were informed Tuesday morning that a major investor (or investors) had pulled out and the plant was being shut down because of that lost revenue. Employees were told that management was seeking other investors to possibly re-open the plant at a future date, but in the interim they were advised to file for unemployment.


The news about an investor pulling out also reportedly caught the IFG management team off guard and they were scrambling Tuesday afternoon to secure additional investors to salvage the Cherokee operation.


The stunning news left Cherokee shocked and dismayed as the promise up-front of 500 employees and reliable, locked-in investors parlayed into a bright, sunny future for the plant, this community and all of Northwest Iowa.


The former Cherokee Tyson Foods plant shut down in 2014 and left 450 workers out of a job and a hole in the heart of the local economy.


Phone calls to principal owners CEO Jeremy Robinson and legal counsel Mack Zimmerman went unanswered Tuesday, as they were reportedly in meetings. Current plant manager Jerry Menke also did not respond to phone calls.


The Chronicle Times learned of the announced shut down after rumors surfaced and by speaking with employees who asked not to be identified.


Cherokee Area Economic Development Corporation Director Bill Anderson was shocked to hear the news when the CT contacted him Tuesday morning. Anderson said he knew nothing of the development, questioned its veracity, and said he would certainly investigate the matter fully. Anderson and former interim CAEDC Director John Comstock were instrumental in bringing IFG in Cherokee. Comstock was also shocked and unaware of the development when the CT reached him at his rural Cherokee farm. He immediately met with Anderson to begin working on strategy going forward.


Among other unfounded rumors swirling is that the closing is temporary and the plant has been or will be sold to another major company that waited for IFG to get the former Cherokee Tyson Foods plant up and running before moving in. If true, this, too, would portend well for Cherokee and its future...