Sept. 25, 2006

Government officials tours Faribault Foods

By Kristen Miller
Staff Writer

Faribault Foods received a visit from local and state officials last Monday for a review of economic development.

Those in attendance were State Representative Dean Urdahl, State Senator Steve Dille and Ward Einess, acting commissioner for the department of employment and economic development for the state of Minnesota.

Allan Anderson, Faribault Foods plant manager, gave the group a tour of the food processing plant in Cokato and spoke about the different issues concerning employment and operation.

With more than a 25 percent annual turnover rate for employment, Faribault Foods has a hard time finding and keeping long-term, loyal employees, Anderson said.

This year, the company was down 20 employees from last year, Anderson explained.

Faribault Foods employees work 10-hour days, four days a week which is an incentive for workers, he said.

After the tour, Einess asked Anderson what the state can do to help with the operation of the business. Anderson spoke of the several regulatory agencies that have to go through the plant including the Food and Drug Administration, US Department of Agriculture and Occupational Safety and Health Administration, just to name a few.

Anderson also recommended help with employment; finding and keeping workers at the Cokato plant.

Einess agreed with Anderson’s statements and left complimenting Faribault with its “great success story,” and going from nine employees in 1994 to more than 200 today.

The objective of the tour was for the State of Minnesota to reexamine the workforce development and “find what we should be doing instead of relying on the same programs,” Einess explained.

The economic development might need revamping for next year, Einess explained.

An example would be to introduce JOBZ into the community and market affordable housing that can be found in the area, Einess said.

Much loss comes from people commuting to the Twin Cities for better salaries, Anderson explained. But, he also explained the benefits package is comparable to city jobs.

Anderson also contributed much loss in attracting workers with strong work ethics. Many hard workers can be attributed to them work on family farms since much of the work at Faribault Foods is working with machinery. But with the decrease of such farms, that work ethic is harder to find, Anderson explained.

Vice President Jim Nelson could not attend their tour but hoped it gave “a better understanding for Mr. Einess of the industry in out-state Minnesota.”

“Much of the community just doesn’t know what [Faribault Foods] is about,” Anderson said.

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