Wayne Farms breaks ground on poultry plant expansion

Construction expected to be completed early in January 2019.

A major expansion of the Enterprise Fresh Processing Facility by Wayne Farms LLC kicked off with a groundbreaking event this week. Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey joined Wayne Farms leadership for the groundbreaking ceremony, along with local dignitaries, civic and business leaders from Enterprise, Coffee County, Ala., and surrounding areas.

The company’s planned expansion will begin immediately and is expected to be completed early in January 2019. Wayne Farms plans to hire an additional 400 team members to staff the expanded plant, bringing the total workforce to more than 1,700 people and increasing production by more than 30%. The company also expects to fill the new positions by January 2019.

The expanded plant includes the addition of a new processing line with state-of-the-industry technologies and processing equipment -- including marination, waterjet portioning, automated sizing -- and automated packaging, including controlled vacuum packaging.

The new line will focus on Wayne Farms’ new NAKED TRUTH Premium Chicken brand, which features products from chickens raised to Global Animal Partnership (GAP) Step 2 program standards. Program requirements include additional house lighting and more natural light cycles for rest, reduced house density, environmental enrichments like perches and straw bales and the use of controlled-atmosphere stunning (CAS), which renders chickens unconscious prior to handling and processing.

“This expansion will increase our production by more than 30% and allow us to focus on NAKED TRUTH Premium chicken products in order to meet the needs of a growing number of conscientious consumers who want proof of responsible care behind the chicken on their plates,” said Brad Williams, south Alabama area complex manager for Wayne Farms.

State and regional officials, including Ivey and the Wiregrass Economic Development Corp., were quick to champion the initiative. “When businesses are expanding their efforts in Alabama, it is a sign that what we are doing is working,” Ivey said. “With this expansion, Wayne Farms will not only be able to better serve their customers and to grow their business; they will also provide a good wage for 400 more Alabamians. When we provide a favorable business climate, employers and employees succeed; thus, our state succeeds.”

Wiregrass Economic Development Corp. executive director Jonathan Tullos said the expansion is “the largest single economic development investment in the history of Coffee County.”

“This investment of $105 million will help create 400 direct job opportunities for people throughout the Wiregrass. Our communities and farmers will benefit from additional sales in retail and consumer goods. We are fortunate to have good corporate partners, like Wayne Farms, who continue to invest in our region,” he said.

Wayne Farms operates three production complexes in the Wiregrass region and employs more than 3,000 people. The Enterprise Fresh Processing Facility is one of the largest employers in Coffee County, with more than 1,200 team members working to support local operations. Hundreds of local family farmers also raise chickens for Wayne Farms, and the company purchases local grain for feed needs.

“This investment in our Enterprise operation is a strategic decision,” Wayne Farms president and chief executive officer Clint Rivers said. “The expansion is part of our ongoing growth in south Alabama. We’ve invested more than $200 million in the Wiregrass area, and it’s a success story for us and the communities where we live and work. The relationship has been outstanding, the workforce is solid and the support from business, government and community leaders has been exemplary.”

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