CAMANCHE — With Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds grabbing a shovel to help, Naeve Family Beef broke ground Thursday on construction of its new 15,000-square-foot beef processing plant and retail space in Camanche.

Naeve Family Beef, which will be located at 1902 Seventh Ave., Camanche, will employee 40 to 50 people at the single-species beef plant, according to company officials. It will be a state-of-the art, 50-head per day beef packaging and processing facility with a retail store, said Naeve Family Beef President Andrew Naeve, who runs a sixth-generation family farm near Andover where the family grows row crops and raises beef cattle.

“It’s been a long-time dream of ours to have our own brand of beef product that would allow us to sell our amazing locally raised beef to our community,” Naeve said. “Generations of hard work, tough decisions and challenging times have led us to today where we’re finally able to make that dream a reality.”

Reynolds praised the Naeves for their commitment and noted she signed legislation Wednesday that expands Iowa’s meat processing capacity and helps essential industries. In addition to grants, there is an educational component with community colleges to provide the talent pipeline Naeve Family Beef will need to continue to grow and expand, she added.

Citing the COVID-19 pandemic, Reynolds said the last 15 months have pointed to some areas the state could improve upon, and that gaps within the meat-processing industry were exposed when many large-scale facilities had to close down. Although the disruption was temporary and Reynolds is impressed with how fast the state was able to pull out if it, the impact was significant, she said.

“This is an opportunity to strengthen Iowa’s ag economy, boost the food supply chain and increase our capacity for smaller meat-processing facilities,” Reynolds said. “And that is exactly what you are going to do.”

The project is not only important for the Naeve family and the community but also for the beef industry and all beef consumers, Naeve said. Beef farmers and beef consumers have been impacted over the last two years by disruptions in the meat-packing industry, Naeve said.

“The disruptions have been amplified by the mass consolidation in our industry down to just four major packers that are mostly foreign owned,” Naeve said. “Consumers deserve the right to know where and how their beef was raised. And they deserve to have a reliable source of high-quality beef. And with Naeve Family Beef, they will get both of those.”

Camanche Fire Chief Dave Schutte, Building Inspector Jim Sowle and City Engineer Dan Solchenberger were instrumental in getting the project through at a great pace, Camanche City Administrator Andrew Kida said. Kida thanked the Naeves for their cooperation in putting up with the city’s processes. The Naeves were cognizant of concerns raised by neighbors of the business, Kida said.

“This is a great development based on the economic-development processes Camanche has put in place, the city council’s put in place, to help make programs like this happen and have the incentives to make these types of businesses go forward. So we’re grateful for that,” Kida said.

The facility’s construction will take about 10 months to complete, Naeve said.

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