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In the red: city unleashes its plan to keep Heinz from closing

Heinz plant follow-up

POCATELLO, Idaho - The city of Pocatello is working to keep the Heinz plant from closing its doors, and says there is still hope.

Mayor Brian Blad had to act fast, so on Friday morning he requested to meet with the head executives of the Heinz corporation including: Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway, and 3G Capital. 

"We would like togo in and talk about our Heinz plant here, talk about our community, and see if there is anything we can do to save the plant," Blad said.

While the city awaits a response from the company, city officials have been busy thinking of Plan B just in case Heinz fails to negotiate.

Both Blad and Bannock Development Corporation director John Regetz said they believe there is still hope to salvage the situation.

"This, of course is disturbing," Regetz said. "But, it's not that we don't have other prospects and options that we can and will pursue."

He said the announcement came as a shock since it was only a couple months ago when the Heinz company was talking about expanding.

"This is quite a change from potential growth to closing facilities, which is a 180-degree change in direction for the company," Regetz said.

Blad noted there is another food production company already lined-up and "99.9-percent" ready to move in. He said the initial plan was to have this unnamed company move-in before the Heinz announcement was made on Thursday.

"If we kept Heinz here and kept the 410 other employees there, it would add jobs. I want to be able to add (jobs) and right now if Heinz closes we would just be swapping, and that's not beneficial to our economic growth," Blad said.

Both Regetz and Blad said one of the reasons Heinz is opting to close its doors is because it will be trying-out a new business model where it will consolidate its production into one centralized location in order to try and minimize transportation costs.

Regetz said transportation costs are the largest cost in retail.

Blad said the Pocatello plant is unique to the company.

"For the past two years, it has been recognized throughout the world and the Heinz corporation as the number one plant. So to us, it doesn't make sense to close it," Blad said.

For now, Blad said the city will try and convince Heinz the Pocatello plant should be its centralized location.

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