Peco Foods Announces Northeast Arkansas Plant, 1,000 Jobs

by Mark Carter  on Monday, Mar. 10, 2014 10:02 am  

Gov. Mike Beebe and executives from Peco Foods announced plans Monday for a new $165 million poultry operation in northeast Arkansas that will employ 1,000.

Arkansas Business reported on Peco Foods' plans two weeks ago, and published first word of the operation in November.

Peco, of Tuscaloosa, Ala., is planning an integrated poultry operation in Randolph and Clay counties. The project includes a 255,000-SF processing plant and 73,000-SF hatchery in Pocahontas in Randolph County and a feed mill in Corning (Clay County).

"We are extremely pleased to formally announce this new project today," Mark Hickman, president and CEO of Peco Foods, said. "By every measure, Arkansas is a great place to do business, and we look forward to providing new jobs and an economic boost to Randolph and Clay counties."

Peco Foods is the eighth-largest poultry producer in the country, processing about 24 million pounds of poultry each week. The company has been in Arkansas since 2011 when it acquired the Townsends Poultry Complex in Batesville. Peco also operates a feed mill in Newark (Independence County).

Once the facilities in Pocahontas and Corning are up and running, the company will employ a total of roughly 6,000 workers. Peco's national clients include Buffalo Wild Wings and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. of Bentonville, for which it supplies the boneless chicken used in the Great Value private label brand. 

Hickman said Peco's expansion plans included northeast Arkansas because of three factors: the local workforce, the proximity to grain farms and a rural area offering the right sites.

Hickman said the average wages after a year of employment will be $10.86 an hour at the processing plant and $13 an hour at the mill. He said the new facilities would require contracts with 90 local, independent growers operating about 640 chicken houses, all needing 339,000 bushels of corn and 220 tons of soy meal for feed on a weekly basis.

Hickman also said the company will build state-of-the-art wastewater treatment facilities for both sites. Peco will receive more than $4.5 million in state and local incentives, with additional tax breaks planned, according to the Arkansas Economic Development Commission. The incentives package includes:

  • A Community Development Block Grant of $3.5 million for infrastructure at the Pocahontas facilities
  • Another CDBG grant of $1 million for infrastructure at the Corning site
  • $75,000 in Economic Infrastructure Funds (EIF) to Pocahontas for water and sewer
  • Income tax credits based on total payroll of new jobs
  • Sales tax refunds on building materials, taxable machinery and equipment associated with the project
  • Training assistance
  • A grant of $231,000 from the Delta Regional Authority
  • $700,000 from Randolph County.

The company plans two phases of construction: groundbreaking for the feed mill site in Corning is set for next month, while initial work on the hatchery and processing plant site near Pocahontas is set for July. Work at both sites is expected to be complete within 18 months.

The development is viewed as the best manufacturing news in years for Randolph and Clay counties.

"Peco is really going to be a big lift," a community leader in Corning (Clay County) told Arkansas Business for a February cover story. "They've been looking in the area for three to four years. We’ve been working with them since last May."



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