JEROME • What will be the only industrial beef processing facility in Idaho is planned to open in northern Jerome County by spring 2015. Dale T. Smith & Sons Meat Packing Co. is in the permitting process to relocate its 60-year-old business from Draper, Utah to the Magic Valley.
The $7.5 million, 25,000-square-foot facility would create 100 jobs in its first year of operation, and another 100 jobs in its second year, said Arlen Crouch, Jerome 20/20 economic development group board member.
The operation will provide an outlet for processing cattle in the Magic Valley.
“The city, the county and Jerome 20/20 have all united to make this happen,” Crouch said. “It’s a new deal. The atmosphere has changed. It’s a successful thing that everybody has worked on. I think this truly is a new horizon.”
About 99 percent of beef cows and retired dairy heifers are shipped outside the state to be processed, Crouch said. That costs producers between $75 and $100 per head to transport.
The Utah meat packer currently processes about 500 Magic Valley cattle per week, he said.
“This will give those ranchers a place to finish cows and ship them locally,” said Matt Thompson, project planner recruited by Jerome 20/20. “There will be less impact on the highways because of that. At the end of the day, the producers are going to benefit.”
The last large company to open in Jerome County was plastic bag producer Hilex Poly about six years ago, Crouch said. Jerome’s city wastewater treatment facility is near maximum capacity, making further industrial development in the area difficult.
The meat processing facility, planned near the intersection of E. 700 N. and Interstate 93 in Jerome County, will take care of its own wastewater.
“There are several layers of permitting they’ll have to do,” Thompson said. “First, they have county permits, land-use permits, there’s building permits and waste from the plant will need special environmental permits.”
Thompson, who is helping the Utah company with the permit process, said he hopes to have the planning and zoning plans approved by March 1.
The Dale T. Smith & Sons Meat Packing Co. sells bulk processed beef to commercial and retail customers in “40 to 60 pound boxes of beef,” Thompson said.
The company specializes in bulk orders of rib eye steaks, fillets, tenderloin, ground beef, brisket and other cuts of meat.
Crouch said the meat packer will be completely relocating its business from Utah to Jerome County. The new facility will be a complete upgrade from its existing one, he said.
“Not even on the same drawing board,” he said. “This is an old company. One of the reasons they’re moving is because growth is forcing them out. This will be a very high-tech, industrial operation compared to what they have right now.”
Dale T. Smith & Sons did not return phone calls to the Times-News Tuesday.