Tyson Foods will invest $48 million in an expansion project at Pine Bluff. Nearly 70 jobs will be created by the project, which is expected to be complete by late 2021, according to a news release.
The project is part of the company's commitment to accelerate the long-term growth of its poultry business and continued success of its Pine Bluff poultry plant, company officials said Thursday.
"The demand for convenient, high-quality chicken products continues to grow and we're investing in projects that meet the needs of our customers and consumers," said Donnie King, chief operating officer and group president, poultry for Tyson Foods.
"We'd like to thank the Arkansas Economic Development Commission and the Economic Development Alliance for Jefferson County for their assistance and support of this project," King said.
The project will increase capacity to the plant's fully-cooked processing lines that in part produces chicken tenders, chicken strips, boneless and bone-in wings and air-fried products. The investment will add automated processes to product packing lines.
"Since John H. Tyson spotted an opportunity in the 1930s and expanded his local deliveries from Northwest Arkansas to St. Louis, Kansas City and Chicago, Tyson Foods has built its name on the company's ability to see a need early and fill it with a quality product," Gov. Asa Hutchinson said. "Nearly 100 years later, the family and the company continue the tradition, which has made life better for the thousands of people who have worked for the company, and the millions of people who enjoy their products."
The Pine Bluff plant and related operations were built by Tyson Foods and opened in 1991. It makes fully cooked chicken products for food service and retail customers, such as grocery stores and quick serve restaurants. The facility employs more than 1,100 people and paid nearly $47 million in wages during its 2020 fiscal year. Annual payout for farmers who raise chickens for the plant was more than $27 million.
The company recently raised starting hourly wages at the facility to at least $15.
"Tyson Foods is a homegrown company that has forever altered the economic landscape in Arkansas," said Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston, who is also executive director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission. "Poultry production is responsible for about 25 percent of the agriculture jobs in Arkansas, making the state one of the top five broiler producer states in the country. This expansion is a direct reflection of Tyson's commitment to the Pine Bluff community and the confidence they have in our workforce."
The company employs more than 24,000 people across Arkansas with an annual payroll of more than $1.4 billion.
"Tyson Foods has been an economic driver for many years in Jefferson County," said Allison J.H. Thompson, president and chief executive officer of the Economic Development Alliance for Jefferson County. "We are excited about their upcoming expansion and have enjoyed working with their team to support this project."
Tyson Foods paid Arkansas poultry growers more than $237 million in its 2020 fiscal year and estimates its total statewide impact to be $2.1 billion.
Tyson Foods is one of the world's largest food companies and a recognized leader in protein. Headquartered in Springdale, the company has 139,000 team members.