By Aaron Moody
February 17, 2017
A sign a consultant showed the Garner Town Council during its annual retreat adequately summed up the status of the former ConAgra Foods site.
The sign from 2012 listed town goals for the Jones Sausage Road property, where a 2009 explosion killed four at the Slim Jim plant. ConAgra closed the plant in 2011 and moved Slim Jim production out of state.
The town’s goals haven’t changed since since 2012, and neither has the abandoned tract of land. Now town leaders are starting to rethink their strategy for attracting new jobs to the site.
Before the Slim Jim plant closed, ConAgra was Garner’s largest employer, with about 440 workers. The jobs were lost, and when the company moved on, Garner also took a $55 million hit to its tax base.
“We identified the goals because we wanted to at least replace the investment and jobs and tax base at that location,” said Crystal Morphis, the economic-development consultant assisting with the retreat.
The original vision was for one large employer, and Garner leaders thought a company in life sciences would be the best fit because of the water-treatment capacity the old plant left behind.
“But it’s still vacant, so it’s time for us to discuss whether these project goals remain valid today ... or whether these goals need to be evaluated and modified,” Morphis said.
For Full Story: http://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/community/garner-cleveland-record/article133447679.html