Cherokee, IA Reacts to Closing of Tyson Plant

The Tyson plant in Cherokee, Iowa is the second largest employer in town. But it's 50-years old, and the company decided it wasn't worth it to keep up with the necessary renovations. These types of situations are never easy. For a long time, we've been trying to figure out how to turn things around and return the operation in Cherokee to profitability. To make the necessary upgrades, the equipment and infrastructure, and to bring about the necessary production efficiencies would just simply be cost prohibitive. So, we finally have to make the difficult business decision to make this change. The town had little warning, and learned of the decision the day it was announced. "They made the decision. The city does not have a say in that and we're now collecting the information and assessing what impact it has on the community. We're moving forward," said Cherokee City Administrator Don Eikmeier. I'm here in Cherokee, Iowa where it was just this past Friday at about 3:00 pm when we learned that the Tyson plant right behind me will be closing-putting 450 people out of work. A town of just about 6-thousand, most residents of Cherokee knew someone employed by the plant. But the decision didn't come as a complete shock. "The rumors of the plant closing have been going on for quite a few years and I don't think they were ever taken very seriously. This seems imperative to the community and I think it's going to be a real detriment to the town," said Cherokee resident Tim Greenwood. Earlier today, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad spoke about the plant closing and what he hopes can be accomplished. "It's a significant employer in Cherokee, Iowa. We want to do all we can to help the workers that are going to be displaced and try to help the community. We're going to try help find new employment opportunities for them," said Gov. Terry Branstad. As the Tyson plant prepares to close later this summer, the effects on other local businesses are already being felt. "At this early stage in the game the only thing I can say is that it is a significant impact on the community-on the business community as well as the city," said Eikmeier. "We operate two utility plants, a water plant and waste water plant, which are serving solely the Tyson plant and will have to be closed down."