Postville plant step closer to benefits
Agri Star will use E-Verify system to make sure no illegal immigrants are hired.
BY PAT MCTAGGART • Times Herald
ELKADER, Iowa -- The Clayton County Enterprise Commission Board recommended that the Iowa Department of Economic Development approve enterprise zone benefits for Agri Star Meat & Poultry LLC.
Agri Star recently purchased the defunct Agriprocessors plant in Postville, just across the Clayton County line. The designated enterprise zone in Postville crosses into Clayton County.
To be eligible for enterprise zone benefits, a company must be located in a designated enterprise zone, have a minimum investment of $500,000, create at least 10 full-time jobs, provide all full-time employees with standard medical and dental insurance, and pay employees an average wage that is equal to or greater than 90 percent of the average county or regional wage.
The enterprise zone benefits include a local property tax exemption of up to 100 percent of the value added to the property for up to 10 years, additional funding for training new employees, a refund of state sales, service or use taxes paid to contractors of subcontractors, and an investment tax credit of up to 10 percent of the qualifying investment, amortized over five years.
Des Moines attorney Doug Gross emphasized that the Agri Star plant has not received funding from the previous plant owners or from Agriprocessors. He also said that the company will use the E-Verify computer system to make sure that only legal workers are hired at the plant.
Agri Star already has 421 workers processing poultry at the Postville plant. Gross said at least 156 additional workers will be hired when the plant's beef kill operation begins, hopefully in January. Agri Star plans to invest $750,000 in building improvements and $3 million in equipment and equipment upgrades.
Montreal businessman Hershey Friedman is the company's chief investor. His daughter, Sara Hirsch, is the company's owner, and his son-in-law, Daniel Hirsch, is its president.
"Mr. Friedman is interested in aggressively getting the plant going at full capacity," Gross said. "He wants to make the Agri Star plant in Postville the pre-eminent kosher plant in the world."