SLEEPY EYE (LEARFIELD) – This week’s announcement that Del Monte Foods is closing its Sleepy Eye plant in October took the small southern Minnesota community by surprise.

EDA (Economic Development Authority) Coordinator Kurk Kramer says the ripple effects of the closing will go deep.

“There’s thousands and thousands of acres that farmers had that were contracted with Del Monte for peas and corn that it’s going to affect,” said Kramer. “They’ll be trucking companies that hauled the produce, there will be farmers that used the silage as a bi-product, of course the school district is going to be affected.”

Kramer says around 370 employees will lose their jobs at the plant. He adds the city has already been in contact with county, state and federal work officials to see what help they can provide.

“We’re optimistic that we can find a solution here so we’ll see what happens,” said Kramer. “It will become a little easier to see just exactly what’s going on in the coming days when we see what the plan is.”

Del Monte officials told the city the closing is due to economic reasons.