Benson and Turner Foods starts construction on meat processing plant

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Benson and Turner Foods break the ground and throw the dirt in the air alongside their family members who supported them.

Benson says the progression to come to this point has been slow, but with construction underway he plans for the plant to open June 1 next year.

As the shovels break through the soil, Paul Benson and those around him celebrate the beginning of Benson and Turner Foods’ dream being fulfilled.

Benson and Turner Foods, which previously received $1 million from the USDA to support building a meat processing plant in Waubun , has officially begun construction following a groundbreaking event on Wednesday, Aug. 2. Though construction had already begun, friends, family and business associates gathered around to enjoy the occasion.

Benson says the progression to come to this point has been slow, but with construction underway he plans for the plant to open June 1 next year. Along with the plant itself will be a storefront with a full-service meat counter. Benson envisions it as a learning opportunity for White Earth Tribal and Community College students.

“We’ll also hopefully be able to carry locally-grown products … for local entrepreneurs to market their things,” he said.

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Architectural rendering for Benson and Turner Foods’ meat processing plant
Provided by Mary Metelak

The process to get to this point, Benson says, has been a challenge that tested his patience. After Doyle Turner, Benson’s friend and business partner, died of COVID-19 in 2021, Benson had to start all over. He got his sister, Mary Metelak, involved when she started grant writing to raise more money for the plant’s construction. She is now a partner in the business and is excited to see her brother and Turner’s hard work come to fruition.

“It’s going to happen,” she said. “And it’s just almost a miracle that it all came together and happened. So yeah, I guess perseverance pays off.”

“It took a long time to get to today,” Benson added.

Both Metelak and Benson called the construction a “dream come true” and are excited for collaboration with the community, including school districts, local groceries and restaurants. For Benson, he hopes this project is a blueprint for other communities to complete more projects like it. For Metelak, she hopes this plant provides nutritious meat to local schools, and she’s looking forward to giving back to the community.

Benson says he’s trying to create opportunities for his community, which he’s “very grateful to be part of.”

“If the small beef producer doesn’t think they’re important, they’re wrong,” Benson said. “They’re very important. They’re a big part of this beef growing economy in our state and we’re just trying to give them better opportunities.”

 

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