Poultry processor to add 1,000 jobs in northeastern Arkansas

LITTLE ROCK — Poultry processing company Peco Foods said Monday it will spend about $165 million to build new facilities in Clay and Randolph counties in northeastern Arkansas and create about 1,000 new jobs.

In a news conference at the state Capitol, company officials and Gov. Mike Beebe said the company will build a feed mill in Corning and a processing plant and hatchery just outside Pocahontas.

“By every measure, Arkansas is a great place to do business. You have an outstanding work force that shares the goals and values of our company,” Peco Foods President and CEO Mark Hickman said. “Access to a strong pool of employees became a primary driver behind our decision to expand our holdings here in the state.”

Beebe said he appreciates the company’s confidence in the state.

“We look forward to being partners for … many, many years to come,” he said.

Hickman said construction of the feed mill will begin next month and construction of the other facilities will begin in July. The feed mill is expected to take a year-and-a-half to complete.

He said average wages will be $10.86 a hour at the processing complex and $13 an hour at the feed mill, plus benefits.

Tuscaloosa, Ala.-based Peco Foods also operates a poultry complex in Batesville and a feed mill in Newark. The 1,000 new jobs at the facilities will bring Peco’s total employment to about 6,000.

State incentives offered to the company for the project include a $3.5 million Community Development Block Grant for infrastructure at the Pocahontas facilities; a $75,000 Economic Infrastructure Funds grant for water and sewer work at the Pocahontas facilities; a $1 million CDBG for infrastructure at the Corning facility; an income tax credit based on total payroll of new jobs; sales tax refunds on building materials and equipment associated with the project; and training assistance.

Randolph County provided $700,000 in incentives and the Delta Regional Authority provided $231,000.

“This expansion is truly another vote of confidence that we’ve got the right work force, we’ve got the right infrastructure and we’ve got the right business environment in Arkansas and the Delta region to continue to make an impact on our local economies,” said Chris Masingill, chairman of the Delta Regional Authority.

Established in the 1930s, Peco Foods is the eighth largest poultry producer in the nation, processing about 24 million pounds of poultry each week. It provides chicken meat to national food services retail grocers including Buffalo Wild Wings and Bentonville-based Walmart.