Basu: Immigrants Offer Solutions to Employers in Midwest

Des Moines Register
October 6, 2012

What do an Ottumwa pork producer, a North Dakota conveyor-belt manufacturer and an Ohio shooting victim have in common?

All were approaching a do-or-die point, and all got through it because of immigrants.

Cargill Meat Solutions (then called Excel Pork) wanted to expand and add 200 pork-processing jobs in Ottumwa in the late 1990s. But an aging population, departing young people and disinterest in the work made it impossible to find workers locally. So the company recruited foreign-born workers in Texas, California and other states. That was so successful that they were joined by relatives, and today 40 percent of the plant’s 2,250 employees are foreign-born, claiming 27 national origins.

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