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Letter: Support Jennie-O Turkey Store expansion in Willmar

The Jennie-O Turkey Store project meets all the objective criteria for tax-based incentives to expand in Willmar. Make no mistake — they will still be paying tens of thousands of dollars in property taxes every year. They will continue to be the largest taxpayer in Kandiyohi County. This is not corporate welfare.

What the city is recommending and Jennie-O has requested is exactly the way industrial policy and industrial development is done across the country. Look at our neighbor South Dakota — nothing has been done without tax breaks there for decades. Willmar should not unilaterally disarm and send the message “no industry wanted.”

On Friday, an individual wrote a letter to the editor comparing Willmar to Sioux Falls and asked for diversification of the economy. Jennie-O’s expansion to bring in executives is a type of diversification. Production jobs are here to stay. Executive jobs can go to the headquarters in Austin, near the airport in Minneapolis, or to a no-income-tax state like South Dakota.

At the pace we are developing, Willmar has over a hundred years of industrial land from the old airport. Trading a fraction of this land for more jobs is the right thing to do.

Jennie-O pays health care, bonuses, and other benefits to its employees. Jennie-O is and will continue to be an asset to our economy and its continued growth. Any strain on social agencies, medical facilities, and others is not from Jennie-O employees.

I urge the council to vote unanimously in favor of the expansion. Send a message that Willmar is a good place to grow your business.

There will be more businesses wanting to expand or relocate. We have the land and the infrastructure to attract and keep these businesses. The final piece is to follow an incentive-based tax policy used by everyone else.

Craig Holmgren