Simplified: The leader of a local group opposing a proposed pork processing plant said he's "confident" he can get enough signatures to let voters decide the project's fate. Meanwhile, the company behind the plant says they're doing nothing wrong and they're "confident" it's a good project for Sioux Falls.
Wait, unpack that.
Let's meet the two key players here.
Wholestone Farms announced last summer plans to bring a $500 million pork processing facility to Sioux Falls in the area near I-229 and Benson Road.
- They want the pork plant operating in Sioux Falls.
Smart Growth Sioux Falls is a ballot measure campaign committee, i.e. a citizen-led effort to let voters decide if another slaughterhouse (the other one being Smithfield Foods) should be allowed within city limits.
- They do not want the pork plant operating in Sioux Falls.
Why it matters
- If Smart Growth Sioux Falls succeeds in getting the issue on the ballot, spokesman Robert Peterson said he's "confident" the ban on future slaughterhouses will pass.
- Peterson's already got support from more than four dozen businesses, who signed off on a letter sent to the City Council earlier this month from Peterson's nonprofit Citizens for a Sustainable Sioux Falls.
- Luke Minion, chair of the Wholestone Farms board, said if the ban does pass, it'd create a double standard in the Sioux Falls business community. That's because the ballot measure would carve out an exemption for Smithfield.
- Minion also said he's "confident (Wholestone's plant) is a good project for Sioux Falls."
"If there were so many residents concerned, it seems odd they’re not calling us," Minion said.
How did we get here?
Wholestone Farms in June 2021 announced plans for the $500 million plant – which it said will initially employ 1,100 people.
- About a month later, CEO Scott Webb told the Downtown Rotary he wants Wholestone to partner with the city to build more affordable housing so future workers have a place to live.
Then, earlier this month, Smart Growth Sioux Falls filed paperwork to begin circulating petitions in an effort to keep Wholestone Farms' new plant outside of city limits.
"We're not opposed to the project itself," Peterson said. "We're opposed to the location of the project."
What happens next?
Smart Growth Sioux Falls is continuing to collect signatures. It needs just over 6,000 to make it on the November ballot.
- Peterson wouldn't say how many signatures the group has collected in its first couple weeks, but he did say he's confident they'll make it on the ballot.
"We think something of this magnitude should be located outside the city limits of Sioux Falls," he said.
For Wholestone, the next steps are to continue to educate the public on the company's plans to address concerns about odor, pollution, workforce or housing.
"Right now our view is, we want to be available," Minion said. "We want to address the concerns people have. We’re very confident it's a good project for Sioux Falls."