The parking lot at the Cargill meat plant off I-27 is still empty. The smell of the factory no longer lingers in the air. Even with signs of a ranching recovery, the company says the outlook for the factory is still bleak.
Director of Communications for Cargill Michael Martin tells us corn prices have dropped, some moisture has returned and ranchers are expecting a rebound. They are keeping cattle that would normally be sent to factories so they can breed them. He says this puts increased strain on an already weak cow market.
"There's an already tight supply of beef cattle," he said. "The lowest in 63 years and it is being tightened that much more. A little bit of drought relief has come for certain areas but if we go back into dry conditions we could lose what we gained."
The USDA predicts a rebound in ranching in 2016. Martin says that's under ideal conditions and although they would like to predict a reopening date it's not something that he expects to happen.
"The plant is still idle and there is no foreseeable reopening in the near future," he said.
Even though the doors of the factory remain shut most Plainview locals aren't worried.
"It has been very challenging but I think we've done a lot of the right things to come out of the closure," said Executive Director of the Hale County Industrial Foundation Kevin Carter.
One of those things was trying to bring jobs to Plainview.
"Our unemployment number reached 13.1% sometime during the summer and we keep declining we were at 11.4% in December and I think we're right at 11% even right now," he said.
Even though it's an improvement that's five percentage points higher than the state average but Carter believes energy will be the savior.
"We've had two big wind energy projects announced this summer, so that's really exciting," he said. One is a 200-megawatt project and the other is the world's largest project announced that's about 1.1 gigawatts."
A new South Plains College training center has broken ground that will allow the campus to expand classes. Carter says the school will focus on vocational training including wind energy.
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