Simmons Prepared Foods Inc. of Siloam Springs said Wednesday that it will spend $300 million on a new chicken facility that will create about 1,500 jobs in Benton County.
The company is an affiliate of Simmons Foods Inc., which ranked No. 6 on Arkansas Business’ list of the state’s largest private firms. It plans to put the new plant between Decatur and Gentry. The additional jobs will bring total employment at the operation to more than 2,300 people by 2022.
“We’re thrilled to bring this project to our community and are grateful for the cooperation from the Cities of Decatur and Gentry, local officials, Arkansas Economic Development Commission and the State of Arkansas,” Todd Simmons, CEO of Simmons Foods Inc. and Affiliates, said in a news release. “This project positions us to continue meeting our customers’ needs.”
The company said the facility will produce fresh and frozen chicken products for retail and restaurant customers with capacity to sell 850 million pounds of poultry meat per year at full production. The company expects to begin new operations in 2019.
The company also said it will also create new contracts with local Arkansas farmers.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson attended the announcement, his second jobs event of the day. Hutchinson, who is from Bentonville, was happy to emphasize the size of the deal.
“This is the biggest job announcement that I’ve ever seen in the poultry industry, it’s the biggest jobs announcement that I’ve seen since I’ve been governor, and it is the biggest jobs announcement in my memory here in Arkansas,” he said. “And it just happens to be in my native territory.”
Hutchinson said Arkansas competed with Oklahoma and Missouri for the plant. He said winning the plant meant that some Simmons Foods jobs already in the area would be retained.
The Arkansas Economic Development Commission said the project qualifies for these incentives:
- Create Rebate — an annual cash rebate based on the number of jobs at the plant.
- Tax Back — which provides sales tax refunds on building materials, taxable machinery and equipment associated with the project.
- Community Development Block Grants — $5 million to the company, and $2 million for wastewater extensions to the project.
The project is also benefitting from the Governor’s Quick Action Closing Fund, which will help pay for turning lanes and a potential stoplight near the plant. The governor’s office said it didn’t know the value of the contribution yet because the cost of the improvements haven’t been determined.
The company said the plant will feature modern production facilities, contemporary office space and best-in-class environmental technologies. Simmons Foods’ existing operations in the Decatur, area include a feed mill, hatchery, propane business, business offices, a chicken processing facility and dry pet food production facility operated by Simmons Pet Food. The company said some processing operations will move from an existing facility to the new plant once construction is complete.
Simmons Foods reported $1.45 billion in revenue in 2016. It employs 5,800 people, including 3,200 in Arkansas.
In July, the company marked the grand opening of a 72,000-SF ingredient facility in Siloam Springs, a $30 million plant the company expected to create 78 jobs.