GORDON — Open Range Beef has launched a new meat processing operation here in a plant that closed in 2008.
The plant has new equipment and employs 100 new and experienced employees. After a ramp-up and training period, plant official Pat Shudak said the 36,000-square-foot facility is poised to process between 250 and 300 head of cattle each day.
The plant will also serve as a local hub for custom slaughtering and will offer processing for specialty meat, such as buffalo, organic and natural beef products. Open Range Beef is operating inside the former Local Pride plant, a kosher plant that was shuttered in 2008 after the New York-based owner, Sholom Rubashkin, was convicted of fraud and sentenced to 27 years in prison. The plant sat empty until the City of Gordon acquired the property at a trustee sale in 2009.
The plant had been up for sale for several years before Open Range Beef purchased the facility from the city in late June and began remodeling.
Gordon City Manager Fred Hlava said the re-opened plant will be a boon for the city of 1,600: it will boost the property tax base, offer better prices to local producers, provide jobs and spur growth.
Shudak said the plan is to expand the plant’s cooler space in the future and add 175 more jobs.
Hlava said Gordon’s residents as well as nearby Oglala Sioux Tribe members make a healthy labor pool. He said the city is already looking at ways to address the housing shortage incoming workers are bound to face.