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The news from the J.R. Simplot Wednesday is bad any way you look at it. Loss of up to 1,000 jobs and closure of potato processing plants in Aberdeen and Nampa is not anyone’s idea of holiday cheer.
It’s even worse if you use any of the gushingly optimistic estimates about “job creation” related to the new Greek Yogurt plant about to be built at Twin Falls. Here is an excerpt from a Twin Falls Times-News newspaper editorial:
“And before you know it, the 7.57 multiplier similar to that of a cheese manufacturer can parlay the economic benefit of 400 new jobs into a number closer to 3,000.”
Even if a potato processing plant has only a 5.0 multiplier, it would be reasonable to conclude the closure of the Simplot spud processing plants would put another 4,000 Idaho workers on unemployment–this at a time when the head labor guy wants to put an end to extending unemployment bennies.
Our point is this: New businesses seldom live up to its projected benefits. Likewise, while closures are never good, they are seldom as bad as projected. Prior to the Simplot announcement, Gov. Butch Otter told a radio audience the yogurt plant was worth an additional 3-4 jobs. A former Simplot executive and family member himself, Guv Butch will have a hard time defending claims that loss of 1,000 jobs at the plants won’t mean 3,000-4000 additional job losses.
Simplot simply can’t sell all the french fries (a style of fried potato, not really from France) it has the capacity to produce. Tastes are changing. Greek yogurt (a style of yogurt, not really from Greece) is all the rage among certain cultures.
It has taken an act of congress to get potatoes back on the school lunch menu approved by the U.S. Government. Our famous potato is being maligned by health enthusiasts.