Rumor has it that top corporate brass at ConAgra Foods will decide on the future of the company's Slim Jim plant in Garner during a meeting on Thursday in Omaha, Neb.
Don't hold your breath.
A decision to close or keep the plant, which was damaged in an explosion last June that killed four people, could come soon, but Tony Beasley, Garner's economic development director, doesn't expect news this week.
"They're having a routine board meeting on the 18th and we've been getting calls from employees that a decision is coming," Beasley said.
Garner officials are working with their counterparts at the state level to come up with an incentives package aimed at keeping the plant open. ConAgra laid off about half of the plant's 750 workers last fall and is said to be considering whether to pump more money into it or move production elsewhere.
"We're trying to put a package together and keep them here in North Carolina," Beasley said. "They're still negotiating what exactly will be in there."
Garner Mayor Ronnie Williams has said that the company could get a grant worth as much as $450,000 from the state and a matching tax break from Garner.
Stephanie Childs, a ConAgra spokeswoman, said there is no news to share at this time. She wouldn't confirm whether the company's board will meet Thursday.
"Right now, we continue to focus on producing Slim Jims in the most efficient manner possible to meet customer demand for our product," she wrote in an e-mail.
On Tuesday, ConAgra officials, including CEO Gary Rodkin, gave an update on the company's outlook for 2010 at an analyst conference in Boca Raton, Fla. They did not mention the Garner plant or Slim Jim production, according to a transcript of their presentation.
Garner officials are working on setting up a meeting with ConAgra in the next week or 10 days, and haven't gotten any official word of a decision coming on Thursday, Beasley said. But he's not taking any chances: "We've got people who will monitor the board meeting that day."