Tyson Foods accepts invitation from western Tennessee to build

Plant expected to process 1.25 million birds per week.

Tyson Foods Inc. announced Nov. 20 it has accepted an invitation from city, county and state leaders to build a new chicken production complex in the city of Humboldt, which is part of Gibson County in western Tennessee.

The $300 million project is expected to create more than 1,500 local jobs once the new complex begins operations in late 2019 and help the company meet strong consumer demand for its chicken.

“Our company has been successfully producing chicken in Tennessee for more than 45 years, so we’re pleased to expand our presence in the state with this major investment,” said Doug Ramsey, group president of poultry for Tyson. “We’re grateful for the invitation to become part of Humboldt and Gibson County. The location is attractive to us because of the strong support we’ve received from state and local leaders, the existing industrial park and availability of labor, as well as access to feed grains produced in the region.”

The new plant will produce prepackaged trays of fresh chicken for retail grocery stores nationwide and is expected to process 1.25 million birds per week, increasing Tyson's overall production capacity by the same amount. The payroll and payments to farmers from the new operation, along with its purchase of grain and utilities, are expected to generate an annual economic benefit to the state of Tennessee of $150 million.

“This project will enable us to provide even more fresh chicken to consumers across the country,” Tyson president and chief executive Tom Hayes said. “As one of the world’s leading protein companies, we continue to raise the world’s expectations of how much good food can do.”

Humboldt Mayor Marvin Sikes said the announcement made it a “historic day” for the town. “I want to thank Tyson Foods for their commitment to our community and region. The significant job creation and capital investment that will result from this project will have a positive impact on our community that will last for many years, and I could not be more excited about the future of Humboldt and Gibson County,” he said.

The chicken complex will be comprised of a processing plant, hatchery, a feed mill and related operations, which Tyson will build in and around Humboldt. The plant will be located within the Gibson County Industrial Park, just north of Humboldt, and the company will contract with area farmers to raise chickens. Outside contractors will help build the project; Tyson expects that it will involve hundreds of workers.

“Many years of dedicated work from countless Gibson County citizens and volunteers have laid the foundation for the arrival of this day,” Gibson County Mayor Tom Witherspoon said. “There is not a doubt in my mind that Tyson Foods’ tremendous job creation and capital investment will have a long-lasting, positive impact in Gibson County that will ring in a new era of economic growth bringing opportunity for all of our citizens.”

Tyson chose western Tennessee over potential sites in other states; however, company officials said some of those other sites will remain under consideration for future poultry production expansion.

“I want to thank Tyson Foods for choosing Humboldt as the location for its new operations and for creating more than 1,500 new jobs in Gibson County,” Gov. Bill Haslam said. “The new facility will be Tyson’s fifth location in Tennessee, and it means a great deal that a company of this magnitude will continue to grow its footprint in our state. I appreciate Tyson for its continued commitment to Tennessee and for helping us become one step closer to our goal of making Tennessee the number-one location in the Southeast for high-quality jobs.”

This is the second major economic development project Tyson has initiated in Tennessee this year. In August, the company announced an $84 million expansion of its Union City operations, which is expected to create about 300 jobs in addition to the facility's more than 1,000 current jobs.

Including Union City, Tyson currently operates four facilities in Tennessee, employing about 5,000 people with an annual payroll of more than $181 million. In its 2016 fiscal year, Tyson paid Tennessee farmers more than $61 million. The company estimates its total statewide annual impact for fiscal 2016 -- including payroll, grain purchases, utilities, property taxes and charitable contributions -- to be more than $313 million.

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