Governor Dennis Daugaard will be holding "Capital for a Day" activities in Aberdeen next Friday, August 16. "The community is invited and encouraged to participate in the events."
An event everyone who used to work for now-bankrupt corporate welfare recipient Northern Beef Packers should attend is the community roundtable on workforce, recruitment, and training at the Brown County Fairgrounds Clubhouse from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Laid-off slaughterhouse workers can test Governor Daugaard's ability to give straighter answers than his Department of Labor officials.
Or maybe they could just ask the state to take its past propping up of Northern Beef Packers to its logical conclusion, buy the plant, and start a state-owned beef operation. South Dakota wouldn't have to get into the beef business permanently. We could socialize the plant short-term to put 400 Aberdonians back to work, boost the economy, and prove to potential buyers that a local slaughterhouse producing South Dakota Certified Beef really can succeed.
“We didn’t have the capital necessary to ramp up operations,” said Bob Wright, Northern Beef’s chief operating officer.
Now, with $138.8 million in liabilities and just $79.3 million in assets, according to court documents, the plant has laid off most of its employees and halted production.
Since May, Northern Beef executives have been working with Lincoln to find either a buyer or additional investors to help it purchase enough cattle to turn a profit.
Stradling said new investors were weary of putting in money because there would be so many investors in line ahead of them.
“It was an unfavorable investment, ultimately, when you do the math,” he said [Dirk Lammers, "Beef Plant Looking for Buyer," AP via that Sioux Falls paper, 2013.08.08].
Aberdeen libertarian blogger Ken Santema urges folks to grill the Governor about NBP as well. Santema sees an analogy between NBP's failure and the fate of Detroit:
I am betting if Daugaard will answer questions about the beef plant failing (after being built and supported with corporate welfare) the answer will involved the “free market” and make it sound as if nobody could have foreseen this tragedy. Sadly that may sound like the “truth” to someone who loves to use taxpayer dollars for subsidizing favored special interests. However, those of us that care about fiscal responsibility can see this situation, just as with Detroit, has nothing to do with “market forces”. In this case an inept management team being supported by government bureaucrats (backed by elected officials coming with gifts of taxpayer dollars) were the only real “forces” that are to blame... [Ken Santema, "Will Governor Daugaard Mention the Beef Plant Corporate Welfare When Aberdeen Is ‘Capital for a Day’?" SoDakLiberty, 2013.08.08].
Since Ken brings up Detroit, let's go there: Detroit like Aberdeen has suffered because of a right-wing big-business agenda focused on corporate welfare and tax cuts for the rich:
That brings us to how this all plays into the right’s push to enact ever more regressive tax cuts, protect endless corporate welfare and legislate new reductions in workers’ guaranteed pensions.
These latter objectives may seem unrelated, but they all complement each other when presented in the most politically opportunistic way. It’s a straightforward conservative formula: the right blames state and municipal budget problems exclusively on public employees’ retirement benefits, often underfunding those public pensions for years. The money raided from those pension funds is then used to enact expensive tax cuts and corporate welfare programs. After years of robbing those pension funds to pay for such giveaways, a crisis inevitably hits, and workers’ pension benefits are blamed — and then slashed. Meanwhile, the massive tax cuts and corporate subsidies are preserved, because we are led to believe they had nothing to do with the crisis. Ultimately, the extra monies taken from retirees are then often plowed into even more tax cuts and more corporate subsidies [David Sirota, "Don't Buy the Right-Wing Myth about Detroit," Salon.com, 2013.07.23].
Ken and I invite your post-mortems (I know it's wrong, but I itch to say post-morta) on Detroit and NBP. But let's not waste Governor Daugaard's time with such exaggerated arcana. Let's focus on the immediate problem of selling NBP. The state's corporate welfare for NBP has failed miserably. NBP's managers have made the project look like a boondoggle that no one wants to buy. The only way to sell it may be to prove that the business is viable. The only way to prove NBP is viable to is to start it up again and make it work.
And the quickest way to do that is a state takeover. The workers are there; the beef is there; heck, even the capital is there. Let's turn NBP into SDBP!