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Hormel cuts bacon-making jobs in Minnesota, boosts them in Iowa

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Hormel Foods has chosen its plant in Dubuque, Iowa for the first phase of a major expansion project to create more bacon-toppings products. The news comes two days after the he Austin, Minn. -based food company announced plans to close a plant in St. James, Minn. that makes bacon bits for Hormel.

The Dubuque Telegram Herald reported that its not clear how many jobs might be generated as Hormel adds a new line at its Progressive Processing plant. The newspaper said that if Hormel puts a second new line into the plant later, the $36 million, two-phase project would bring about 90 additional jobs to the plant, which opened in 2010. In November, city and state officials approved $4.1 million in incentives for the expansion. Sites in Minnesota and Nebraska were also under consideration. Hormel’s Dubuque plant currently employs 90 employees but has the capacity to employ 300.

The Mankato Free Press reported that a St. James plant that makes bacon bits for Hormel will close on May 30 and that work will shift to the Dubuque facility. The move will mean that up to 75 people employed at Tony Downs Foods will be out of work. The newspaper said that the St. James plant is closing because "’s cheaper for Hormel to make bacon bits in a large factory with other product lines rather than pay the overhead associated with a plant that makes only bacon bits."

In an e-mail, company executives reassured workers that Tony Downs Foods would attempt to find jobs for the St. James employees in other parts of the company. “We have an excellent group of people in St. James and we intend to keep their continued employment our priority,” President Mike Downs said in an email.

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