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Published August 19, 2013, 02:32 PM

Processing plants look to laid-off SD plant employees

Some processing plant recruiters have been mining Aberdeen, S.D., for former Northern Beef Packers employees after the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last month.

By: Associated Press,

ABERDEEN, S.D. — Some processing plant recruiters have been mining Aberdeen, S.D., for former Northern Beef Packers employees after the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last month.

Turkey Valley Farms was in Aberdeen this past week recruiting employees for its turkey processing plant in Marshall, Minn. And other large processing plants have been advertising openings, too.

Chris Janisch, of Work Connections, said she spoke with 15 people about job opportunities Thursday, and Turkey Valley Farms may hire some of them after reviewing their qualifications.

“It is very sad what happened in Aberdeen with the plant closing,” Janisch said.

Jeffery LaCroix, who worked on the Northern Beef slaughter line, found a road construction job right after he was one of the nearly 260 people laid off.

“I am happy now because I am getting paid,” LaCroix said

Northern Beef Packers is asking a bankruptcy court in Sioux Falls to allow it to hire investment banking firm Lincoln International, which will seek a “stalking horse” bid in which one potential buyer makes an initial offer to set the floor for an auction that invites competitive bids. A hearing on the plan and financing is scheduled this week.

Land for the $109 million plant was first secured in 2006, but the company wasn’t able to slaughter its first animal until late in 2012 and has struggled to reach anywhere near its production target of processing 1,500 head per day from the Dakotas, Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota.

Now, with $138.8 million in liabilities and just $79.3 million in assets, according to court documents, the plant has let go of most employees and halted production.

Once locally owned, Northern Beef Packers is 41 percent owned by businessman Oshik Song, with the rest owned by 69 other Korean investors who each gave at least $500,000 under the federal EB-5 program that encourages foreign investment in exchange for qualifications to secure permanent residency.

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