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Jewish-Owned Postville Real-Estate Business To Close In Wake Of Agri Crisis

agri2.jpgThe owner of the second-largest real estate company in Postville warned Thursday that his business might close in the wake of major financial troubles at the town’s kosher meat plant.

Gabay Menachem, a Lubavitcher Chosid who is unrelated to the Rubashkin family, is the president of GAL Investments. He said that 90 percent of his tenants – including scores of workers from Agriprocessors Inc. – have not paid their rent this month. GAL Investments owns 59 properties in Postville worth about $5.2 million.

Menachem blamed the plant’s recent financial problems and its changing work force for his company’s troubles.

“In a month or two, we might have to close shop,” Menachem said. “We’ve gotten virtually no rent in almost five months. Nobody gets my side of the story. Everybody blames the landlords.”

Federal agents raided Agriprocessors on May 12 and detained 389 illegal immigrant workers in one of the largest single-site operations of its kind in U.S. history. The plant, which opened in 1987 and is the largest employer in the area, has since struggled to have a consistent work force and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy this week.

Since the raid, many of the properties Menachem once rented to immigrant workers have remained empty.

Menachem said Jacobson Staffing, a Des Moines-based staffing firm that withdrew 450 workers from Agriprocessors last week, had initially agreed to deduct money from its workers’ paychecks as rent. But Jacobson withdrew its 450 workers from the plant last week and is owed $845,000 by Agriprocessors.

The largest property owner in Postville, Nevel Properties, is also said to be experiencing difficulties staying afloat. The company which holds 67 properties worth about $4.7 million, is owned by members of the family that owns Agriprocessors, the Rubashkins.

(The Des Moines Register)

2 Responses

  1. I’m not condoning illegal activities; if Agri deliberately hired illegal immigrants they need to be fined.

    However, it’s long been known that Agri is largely responsible for Postville’s economy. There’s always been a love/hate relationship between the Lubavitchers and the larger population. It’s hard to feel sympathy for them. When Agri closes up shop and Postville goes back to being a dusty backwater town; when their largest employer leaves and their second largest realtor can’t make it and also closes his doors, maybe their opponents will think about the effects of their actions.

    Fine them, make the management change, and even institute government overseers, but I think this really is being blown up by those who don’t like the idea of the Lubavitchers taking over Postville for the last 15 years and becoming so prosperous and influential.

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