Simmons Prepared Foods Inc. announced Sept. 27 that it will build a new chicken facility in Benton County, Ark., between Decatur and Gentry. The company plans to invest $300 million in the facility, which is expected to create approximately 1,500 new jobs, bringing total employment at the operation to more than 2,300 people by 2022. It will also create new contracts with local Arkansas farmers.
The facility will produce fresh and frozen chicken products for retail and restaurant customers, with a capacity to sell approximately 850 million lb. of poultry meat annually at full production. The company expects to begin new operations in 2019.
“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,” said Todd Simmons, chief executive officer of Simmons Foods Inc. & Affiliates. “This project positions us to continue meeting our customers’ needs.”
The design will feature modern production facilities and contemporary office space supported with best-in-class environmental technologies. Simmons also plans to increase starting pay at production facilities later this year.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson joined Simmons’ leadership and local officials at the announcement event, held at the Simmons Great Hall on the campus of John Brown University.
“Simmons Foods is a homegrown company that continues to invest heavily in northwest Arkansas,” Hutchinson said. “This announcement comes just two months after the company held a ribbon-cutting at its new pet food ingredient facility in Siloam Springs, (Ark.), which goes to show the faith they have in the area’s workforce and their commitment to the state. We competed with both Oklahoma and Missouri for this project, and I’m proud to say we won.”