EAGLE GROVE, Iowa — Work is on schedule for the new Prestage Hog Processing Plant to open in November of 2018. Preliminary hiring has already taken place, with the bulk of the workers set to be hired just prior to the plant opening.
While the plant will employ somewhere around 1,000 people, it’s not known how many will actually move to Eagle Grove.
“We did a housing study that looked at our pent-up demand for rentals,” said Eagle Grove City Administrator Bryce Davis. “We believe if you’re coming to a new location, you’re taking a new job with the new company, you’re most likely going to rent before you make a commitment to buy a home.”
Davis said if the town of Eagle Grove gains 200 residents, it would be happy with that number. The town is looking to increase rental housing.
“We are looking at a housing subdivision to increase the housing stock. Every small town has a shortage of quality, affordable housing units; we’re looking to remediate that issue,” said Davis.
Eagle Grove has seen some new businesses open, including a new barbershop and a vinyl collectibles shop.
Scott Thompson is a retired farmer now operating Arden-Scott collectibles.
“We’ve been losing population since the 1930s, to tell you the truth,” said Thompson. “Farming became mechanized, and one farmer can farm 500 acres when a family before in the 30s and 40s, you know, they could make a living off 80 acres.”
Although Thompson does a lot of online sales, he’s optimistic about the new plant coming to town.
“Having Prestage come to town, well, it’s a shot in the arm,” he said.
At City Hall, Davis has a long list of projects connected in some way to a growing population. The city is constructing a new wastewater treatment plant, assessing conditions of streets and sidewalks, and may also look at ways to spruce up the downtown area. Eagle Grove Schools is already building an addition for the new incoming students.
“At the end of the day, I’d rather be managing growth than decline,” said Davis. “We can do our best and see what happens.”