From the Aberdeen American News:
Aberdeen is on its way to having a beef-packing plant south of town.
Unofficial results from Tuesday's election show 6,902 yes votes (66.54 percent) to 3,471 no votes (33.46 percent) . There are 23,913 registered voters in Brown County.
Dennis Hellwig of Aberdeen, the head of Northern Beef, celebrated with about 40 of his supporters at the Ward Hotel on Tuesday night. The process of finishing up financial paperwork for the plant will begin at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Hellwig said, because everything was on hold until after the election. Dirt work will resume at the plant site once the paperwork is done.
The TIF means Northern Beef will use approximately $8.6 million in revenue from bonds, issued by the county, to pay mainly for infrastructure at the plant site. Most of the company's property taxes will be used to pay off the bonds over a maximum of 20 years.
Professor Schaff and I both voted in today's election, and I think it's safe to say that we were both in favor of the beef plant coming to Aberdeen. We never denied that this involves challenges. However, as my colleague has said before, and I'll say right now: "managing growth is hard, but managing decline is horrible."
If the above results hold up, it means that the vote was two to one in favor of the plant. I think that this is reasonably encouraging. The motives of those who voted against the plant were a mixed bag, based on available evidence. Some, no doubt, opposed the plant because it probably means that more immigrants will come to town. Of those, some were apparently motivated by racism, but others had altogether legitimate concerns about assimilating a new and perhaps Spanish speaking minority into the community and its schools. A dear friend of mine doubts the ability of our police department to deal with such a minority. Others were concerned with the effects of economic growth. Still others dislike the very idea of TIFs and other tax breaks for corporations. I have sympathy with all of these concerns except the racism, which I hope was a small factor.
Those of us who voted in favor of the plant were more homogeneous in our motives. We support economic development, and we believe that Aberdeen is a strong enough community to meet all the challenges it will bring. A gentleman who called me after my TIF essay was published in the American News spoke of a friend of his who said he would move away if the plant goes in. I do not want to lose anyone, but I do believe that this is a time to have faith in Aberdeen.