By LAUREN ETTER
DOUGLAS, Ga. -- This small town was devastated in February when its largest employer, Pilgrim's Pride Corp., said it would close a chicken-processing plant as part of the company's bankruptcy filing.
Since then, city and county officials have been working to find a buyer who could save the plant's nearly 1,000 jobs and $300,000 in annual county tax revenues. But there's a problem: Pilgrim's Pride isn't eager to sell. The standoff shows how two important imperatives in a recession -- creating jobs and cutting excess capacity -- can collide.
Pilgrim's has so far rejected a $32 million bid for the plant from Amick Farms LLC of Batesburg, S.C., company and city officials say. Another chicken company took a look and decided Pilgrim's asking price was too high, say people familiar with the matter. City officials say the company kept a prospective bidder from touring the plant, making it a challenge to market.
"We've played by the book," says JoAnne Lewis, executive director of the Douglas-Coffee County Economic Development Authority. But "there has been no meeting in the middle. We feel like we're part of a giant game."
Pilgrim's says it hasn't been offered a fair price for the plant and is cautious about letting rivals see its manufacturing processes. Company emails and court documents suggest the Pittsburg, Texas-based company also is concerned about adding capacity in an already struggling industry. More here.