SLEEPY EYE — The announcement Tuesday that Del Monte would shutter its sweet corn and pea canning plant in Sleepy Eye is reverberating throughout the community.
“We had no idea it was coming. It was just a real unpleasant surprise,” said Kurk Kramer, economic development coordinator for the city.
“There’s going to be a big ripple effect. The employees, the farmers contracting thousands of acres to grow for them, the truckers, the silage company that took the waste, the school district, it just goes on and on.”
The California-based company announced the closure will take place in late October, eliminating all 69 full-time jobs and 294 seasonal positions.
Del Monte is also closing its plant in Mendota, Illinois, and selling its facilities in Cambria, Wisconsin, and Crystal City, Texas, consolidating production at its other facilities.
Kramer said Del Monte is one of the top employers in the area. Calendar producer BIC Graphics is the largest employer, with pork companies Chirstensen Farms and Schwartz Farms the other major businesses.
Kramer said things happened so fast there isn’t yet a plan to help employees or figure out how to move forward. He had a conference call Tuesday with the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, Region Nine Development Commission and the federal EDA.
“We will get together again and develop a plan,” Kramer said.