Strauss Brands drops plans for HQ and meat processing facility at Century City

Protesters let aldermen know Tuesday that they oppose plans for the Strauss Brands facility in Milwaukee.
Protesters let aldermen know Tuesday that they oppose plans for the Strauss Brands facility in Milwaukee.

Last updated on March 17th, 2020 at 01:38 pm

Franklin-based Strauss Brands will no longer pursue its plans to construct a 175,000-square-foot facility in Milwaukee’s Century City Business Park, the company announced Monday.

Strauss Brands’ rescinded a $60 million proposal to relocate its headquarters and meat processing facility to Milwaukee six days after the Milwaukee Common Council voted to send the issue to the Zoning, Neighborhoods and Development Committee.

“It was our hope that Strauss Brands’ move to Milwaukee’s Century City neighborhood would have created jobs, provided an economic boost, and inspired other businesses to follow suit,” Strauss Brands chief executive officer Randy Strauss said in a written statement. “We honor and respect the opinions of the community and don’t want to make our home in a place where our presence would not be seen as a benefit. We are no longer pursuing relocation to Century City.”

The announcement comes after Alderman Khalif Rainey, who represents the Century City area, on Friday announced that he had changed his mind and now opposes the Strauss Brands project.

A group of protesters wielding signs that said “Stop the Slaughter” and “Slaughter Houses Exploit Workers” attended the Common Council meeting last Tuesday, when the project was discussed. At that meeting, Rainey dismissed the protesters, calling Strauss Brands’ proposal a source of jobs for his district and adding that he didn’t even recognize any of the protesters as people from his community.

The protesters were in-part composed of members from “Slaughter Free Milwaukee,” a “grass roots” organization that believes slaughterhouse work “is among the most exploitative, dangerous and relatively low paid work in the market,” according to a Slaughter Free Milwaukee press release.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Alderman Robert Bauman brought the motion to return the topic to the committee and advocated for additional time so residents could have more opportunities to gather information and comment on the proposal.

Bauman also criticized the proposal and pointed out how proposals like slaughterhouses, oil refineries and chemical plants historically raise great sensitivity among citizens due to the stigma surrounding these land uses, adding that he was surprised by a lack of public comment at either of the previous public hearings.

“Those types of land uses always seem to end up in the poorest neighborhoods in every big and small city in the country,” Bauman said.

Rainey pulled his support from the project late Friday, citing an overwhelming response from his constituents as the reason for the switch.

Alderman Khalif Rainey

“My number one priority is to always reflect the interests and desires of those I serve,” Rainey said in his statement issued on Friday. “When (Mayor Tom Barrett’s) administration initially brought the Strauss meat processing plant proposal forward, I considered the prospect of bringing 250 jobs to Century City, with more to follow. However, in the 72-hour period since the Common Council considered the proposal, I have received an overwhelming response from neighbors in opposition to the project…In keeping true to the vision of Century City, and standing for the interests of the people in the neighborhood, I do not believe the Strauss meat processing plant is a good utilization of that space. I am listening to the voices in my community, and I expect the (Barrett) administration to do (the) same and withdraw their push for this proposal. I will also be asking the same of my colleagues, to support the will of my constituents.”

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Brandon Anderegg
Brandon covers startups, technology, banking and finance. He previously worked as a general assignment and court reporter for The Freeman in Waukesha. Brandon graduated from UW-Milwaukee’s journalism, advertising and media studies program with an emphasis in journalism. He enjoys live music, playing guitar and loves to hacky sack.

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