Written by R. Patt Lilly, President and CEO, St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce
I have always had an interest in history. One of the more intriguing aspects of history is that it will tend to repeat itself. The St. Joseph Stockyards are a good example.
The Stockyards has always been an important part of the community’s past. It was the largest concentration of market livestock this side of Chicago. It was home to several national meatpacking plants and the birthplace of our animal health industry. In spite of its success, the changing national economy took its toll and by the early 1990s there was little left of this once dynamic business area.
Fast forward to today. The ag industry is driving a rebirth of the old stockyards area. Companies like Triumph Foods, Albaugh and Nestle Purina have made substantial investments in the area. Protein, Inc., began work on its new facility last fall. Nor-Am Ice and Cold Storage has started work on a major expansion of its cold storage warehouse and Albaugh is building a new facility on the old Seitz property. And there is more to come, like the recently announced Daily’s Premium Meats project, which will bring new investment and more than 200 jobs to the area.
While history may be repeating itself in the Stockyards with job growth and new investment, the truth is that history has had a little help. The County, City, and Port Authority have collectively focused their attention on the Stockyards area for the last 20 years, making investment, assisting with incentives, and providing much needed leadership to make things happen in this important area of St. Joseph. Yes, at times progress has been slow, but today we are seeing what can happen when we work together and remain focused.
Yes, the St. Joseph Stockyards are rising from the old stock pens and dilapidated buildings that marked this area. There is still much to be done though. We must embrace the momentum and renew our commitment to the area to ensure the Stockyards area is the dynamic business center it once was in St. Joseph. History once again repeats itself. This time, for the better!