US farmer-owned meat processor West Liberty Foods plans to create 255 new jobs in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, when it sets up a new slicing and packaging plant.

The group is an operating subsidiary of the Iowa Turkey Growers Cooperative and produces 90 million pounds of meat every year. The group also operates Sigourney Foods, and will name its new plant Mount Pleasant Foods.

West Liberty is purchasing a 50,00 sq ft building that will be extended with an additional 5,000 sq ft. Construction of the new building will commence this spring, and production at the completed facility is scheduled to begin 1 January next year.

It will start production with four manufacturing lines and 108 employees. Capacity is forecast to start at 108 million pounds per year. As capacity increases, the plant will run 14 lines and employ more than 225 staff.

Investment in the plant totals US$7m, and CEO Kenneth Rutledge explained that development funds and job credits had been explored to help with the financing.

Bill McKim, president of the Mount Pleasant Area Development Commission’s Board of Directors, welcomed the move, saying that it would provide a tremendous boost to the local economy.