With less than a month remaining to find a sale before the closure of HyLife Windom’s plant in Windom, Minnesota, the state Department of Agriculture called a meeting with a number of important local figures on April 24. On April 11, HyLife notified the town that the plant would close entirely if a new owner was not found by the start of June.
The department says city and state officials are ready to help facilitate a buyer for the facility in order to support the nearly 1,000 workers at the plant who would be laid off if there is no change in ownership. Housing and infrastructure stand out as key needs, as does the success and security of the Windom community. Windom has a population of less than 5,000 people.
Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen said he led the meeting and left it with a more positive outlook about the future of the plant. With the importance of the plant to a small community, he said the state is trying to be as helpful as possible to all parties. The plant does a little over 5,000 pigs per day, Petersen added. Small-to-medium plants are very important for driving competition, he said, and the HyLife Windom plant served primarily the Asian market.
“We wanted to be as welcoming and as big of a resource as we can. The plant’s in great shape,” Petersen added. “It’s a big thing when you have 1,000 employees in a rural area, so we really want to really drive the economy in that area.”
The meeting was attended by the city of Windom, state senator Bill Weber, state representative Marj Fogelman, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, Minnesota Housing Finance Agency, and the Minnesota Public Facilities Authority. After the meeting, Windom Mayor Dominic Jones spoke to a HyLife representative. HyLife said it is still actively looking for a buyer.
One of the most important parts for Petersen was making sure the Windom community feels supported by the state, as does HyLife. HyLife’s U.S. subsidiaries, including the Windom plant, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Delaware on April 27. The filings revealed debts in the range of $100-500 million.
“HyLife knows that we’re trying to help them. Hopefully something positive comes out here in the next week or so,” Petersen said.