A long-delayed South Dakota beef-processing plant given new life when Korean investors took over in 2009 is nearly set to begin operations more than six years after it was first proposed.

Land for the $109-million Northern Beef Packers in Aberdeen was secured in 2006, but financial issues, lawsuits, local opposition, delinquent property taxes, flooding, an economic downturn and millions of dollars in liens have repeatedly pushed back the plant's opening date.

Now, with the sale of $8.5 million in local tax-increment financing bonds, workers should be processing cattle from South Dakota and surrounding states as early as this spring, according to Laure Swanson, Northern Beef Packers spokeswoman.

The facility on Aberdeen's south side will initially process about 200 cattle/day, eventually ramping up to 1,500 head/day from the Dakotas, Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota. The plant currently has about 200 employees but the crew will jump to 650 at full operation.

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