"This is quite a Christmas present," said Harlan Nelson, then mayor of Albert Lea, Minn., on that December day in 1990 when he learned that a closed factory in the town would reopen. "Fairy tales do come true!"
The fairy godmother turned out to be Seaboard Corp., a giant of agribusiness with headquarters in Merriam, Kans., and controlled out of Chestnut Hill, Mass. Seaboard officials announced that they would restart the shuttered pork-processing plant that had once been the town's largest employer--if the city offered a little help. Albert Lea responded by giving Seaboard a $2.9 million low-interest loan and...
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