ARKADELPHIA — The Arkansas Economic Development Commission announced Monday afternoon that a new poultry producer will be moving to Arkadelphia, creating 172 new jobs.
Vikon Farms will relocate its processing facility to the city, where it plans to invest $5.4 million, according to a news release from the commission.
The announcement was made at the site of the former Petit Jean Poultry Plant, which will be the new home of the Vikon Farms plant.
The company, which supports a hatchery in nearby Prescott, will also contract a "significant number" of growers from El Dorado and Union County, the release states.
Phu said the company, which is originally based in Azusa, California, will move all labor operations — hatching, growing and processing — to southwest Arkansas. Vikon's sales office will remain in California.
While he declined to say how many workers will lose their jobs with the company relocating a bulk of its business away from the west coast, Phu would say that they are adding more jobs in Arkansas, than are being lost in California.
Though information on salary ranges for the jobs were not immediately available, Shawnie Carrier, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Arkadelphia Regional Economic Development Alliance, said that the company will spend $6.4 million on payroll.
Gov. Mike Beebe and Vikon officials were present for the announcement. Vikon Chief Executive Officer Quan Phu said company officials would like plant to be operational within the next six months.
Petit Jean closed the plant, which it used for deboning chicken, in April 2011. It was forced to shut down after the company lost its contract with Tyson Foods.
Beebe called the company's move to southwest Arkansas "extremely big" for the region.
"If you're in Fayetteville or Rogers or Jonesboro or Paragould or Little Rock or Conway, you know,  jobs may not sound like a lot," Beebe said. "Trust me, it's a lot to those  families. But when you hit an area that's suffering due to job losses, and they don't have those constant reinvestments that we seem to see in other parts of the state, it's even larger."
The plant, located on Technology Drive in the Clark County Commerce Park, will be used to process chicken and prepare it for shipping to overseas markets, particularly into Asia, according to the release.
Read more about this story in tomorrow's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.