TREMONTON — The old La-Z-Boy facility in Tremonton has been empty since 2008.
A company was ready to move in the vacant building, but some residents say no way.
Mitch Zundel, the economic development director for Box Elder County, said a pig-processing company was ready to move into the empty building, but many residents didn't want it, even though it would mean jobs in an area hit hard by the downturn in the economy.
"Legitimately, the people have a concern, and if they don't want it, it's hard, you can't force a business onto the people," Zundel said.
Tremonton Councilman Lyle Holmgren said residents were concerned what the plant would mean for their community.
"They felt like it was going to smell and smell a lot," Holmgren said. "I don't think so."
Holmgren was part of a small group of city leaders that went to the company's other plant in California on Feb. 20 to see it for themselves. They said when they got there, the smell wasn't that bad.
At a city council meeting Tuesday night, though, he said the number of residents against the plant known as Project SAM, was so overwhelming, he decided against it, even though Tremonton needs jobs.
"We've lost thousands of jobs in Box Elder County since 2008," Holmgren said.
Since then, 630 jobs were lost when La-Z-Boy left, ATK cut close to 2,200 jobs. Another 250 were lost when Autoliv had some cutbacks. Those are just three examples.
"We want to see jobs," Zundel said. "We want to see people employed."
Tremonton's mayor says this pig-processing plant would have provided roughly 200 jobs.
"I don't exactly remember what the starting wage was, but it's not getting rich," Tremonton Mayor Roger Fridal said. "But there is a significant amount of our population that needs jobs, plain and simple."
According to the Box Elder Economic Development Alliance website, the average pay would be $35,000 and put $7 million into the local economy. The company has an additional support industry of an additional 500 to 1,000 new jobs with an estimated economic impact of $190 million.
Tremonton resident Leonard Tyner said there are no jobs for the young in the area. He was originally against the plant.
"I wasn't sure about it at first like everybody else," Tyner said. "I thought, ‘Oh, a pig plant, they stink.'"
But said after thinking about it, he said he changed his mind.
"There's more and more job losses up here every year, every month," he said.
Tremonton's mayor admits the pig plant probably wasn't the best fit for his town.
"I think it's an emotional reaction to having a pig slaughterhouse that is in such close proximity to houses," Fridal said. "Smell, which is what everybody seemed to be concerned about. Just the idea of having a slaughterhouse in town turned people off."
But he also said no business is perfect.
"Is this a perfect way to have growth? It isn't," Fridal said. "But is it growth and would it have benefited the community? I think perhaps it could have."
Contributing: Viviane Vo-Duc