Simplot Gives Fry Plant 'To The People'

Published online: Mar 12, 2004
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Burley, ID, city officials concluded 22 months of negotiations but was finally given Simplot's french fry processing plant located in the city limits of  Heyburn, ID, in southern Idaho.

The two communities adjoin each other and will share in the benefits of receiving the plant, which includes 20 buildings and 1.1-million square feet of floor space. It has a value of over $5 million.

The donation came with just two stipulations, that it not be used for french fry processing and that Simplot retain an open-end lease on the large frozen potato products freezer.

Burley, Heyburn and Cassia and Minidoka county officials will be involved in the donation which Simplot personally said was "for the people" of the area. Simplot was reared and got his start in the potato business just a few miles from the plant's location in Declo, ID.

The Simplot gift sits on 106 acres in Minidoka county and 170 acres in Cassia county. It will be named the Mini-Cassia Regional Industrial Park. Efforts will be made to attract manufacturing businesses to the park in an attempt to utilize the work force of over 500 which was laid off when the plant closed late last year.

The donation will put an end to rumors which have circulated since the announcement of the plant's closure that growers would attempt to form a cooperative, purchase the fry facility and start their own potato processing business.

Growers in the area lost an estimated 25,000 acres of contracted potatoes when the plant was shut down. The two counties produce about 58,000 acres of potatoes annually