Tucumcari may be in line for meat-packing company

By William Thompson: Quay County Sun

– Director of economic development says city also luring ethanol plant.

A major meat packer is considering opening a plant in Tucumcari, economic development director Pete Kampfer told city commissioners on Thursday. If it happens, the plant would employ about 1,600 workers, Kampfer said.

Kampfer said the company, which he declined to name, is considering Clovis as another potential site.
Kampfer also said the city has a contract with another unnamed company that will employ about 30 workers for an ethanol plant at the site of the former Thriftway Refining plant on North Rock Island Road.

Kampfer said he could not identify either company because negotiations are ongoing and confidential.

He said the meat-packing company “could make a decision next week or they could wait six months.”
He said the ethanol-producing company could be operating within the next 18 months.

“We’re still working on some contingencies (with the ethanol plant), like financing,” Kampfer said.
Kampfer declined to discuss incentives Tucumcari is considering for either company. He said city commissioners would have to give approval before any agreements could be finalized.

Kampfer told commissioners that officials with the meat-packing company are wanting to know how the Tucumcari area could supply 1,600 workers.
“I told them that we could get people from Clovis and Amarillo to come here to work,” Kampfer said. “We have a lot of legwork to do.”

Kampfer said Clovis will argue that it needs the plant, especially if Cannon Air Force Base closes, as proposed by the Department of Defense. But he said Tucumcari can make a strong pitch for the company.
If constructed in Tucumcari, the plant would be built outside the city limits.

“We will need the railroad spur in place. We have the money for the railroad spur,” Kampfer said. “I am negotiating with engineers from a number of construction companies to lower the cost of the railroad spur.”

The railroad spur would be a section of Union-Pacific railroad track that would eventually link various industries to existing track. The city currently has $1.3 million set aside for the railroad spur.

Kampfer said he expects the railroad spur to be completed within 18 months.

“The city must have a railroad spur in order to attract a meat-packing plant of this magnitude,” he said.

Kampfer said the ethanol plant, like the meat-packing plant, would create economic growth in other areas of the community.

“The ethanol plant would import grain from area farmers and purchase city water,” he said.

County Commissioner Franklin McCasland said he remembers the former Thriftway ethanol plant that closed down 10 years ago.

“We had five to seven semi-trucks full of grain coming into the ethanol plant every day,” he said. “It was great for the economy.”