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Mixed emotions over Cargill’s new protein headquarters

Cargill's decision to move its North American protein business headquarters to the lot that currently houses the Wichita Eagle newspaper office signals good news for the animal protein industry, but tough times for the newspaper industry. | James Abbott,

As an era for Cargill begins, an era for Wichita Eagle ends

October 4, 2016

I am happy for Cargill because the company has found a new site that will enable it to keep its North American protein business headquarters in Wichita, Kansas. I am equally happy for the State of Kansas in that its present Cargill jobs won’t be lost or relocated.

But at the same time, the newsman in me can’t help but be a little bit sad.

Cargill recently announced that it would be moving its protein operations to the site that currently houses the offices of the state’s largest newspaper, the Wichita Eagle.

It’s a bittersweet moment, as it shows the animal protein business is doing well, but the newspaper business is struggling.

Cargill protein segment moving headquarters

Cargill announced in May that it would be moving its protein headquarters to another site in Wichita to better accommodate its growing needs, but until a press release was issued recently, it was not known exactly where that would be.

It will be housed in Wichita’s Old Town district, on the same lot where the Eagle staff presently works.

This is great for Cargill, as it will be able to maintain its presence in the Midwest, and its many employees that live in the Wichita area won’t have to relocate and can continue to enjoy living where they do. About 800 employees will work in the office once it is completed. The company is expected to move its protein staff members into the new headquarters in 2018.

End of an era for those with ties to newspaper

I grew up only about an hour’s drive from Wichita, and from my earliest years, I remember hearing about and occasionally reading the Wichita Eagle-Beacon, which it was known as before the “Beacon” was dropped from its name. My family subscribed to another daily based in our own county, but the Wichita paper was often around as well.

Eventually, I chose a career in journalism. That interest was definitely fueled by reading daily newspapers.  And during my time as a college student, I took part in the Eagle’s winter internship program offered over Christmas break. While the time I spent there was brief, it left an impression, and I have thought fondly of that experience every time I have driven past that building since completing that internship.

I can only imagine that all of the people whose affiliations with the Eagle spanned over longer amounts of time are experiencing even more sadness. My heart goes out to them.

But I totally understand why the Eagle is moving. As technologies advanced, it became less necessary for each newspaper to have its own printing press, and with newspaper subscriptions increasingly dropping as readers favor getting their information through online sources, the need for press operations dropped even more. As the Eagle began being printed in Kansas City, Missouri, the need for a large building like its present one just isn’t there. The Eagle office building will be demolished, making room for Cargill’s future office building.

Luckily, the Eagle will still be around and its employees will still have a place to work. The newspaper reported that it is close to announcing where its new, smaller office space will be.

Times continually change, and as these changes occur, I wish everyone at Cargill and the Eagle the best.

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