Simmons Prepared Foods will build a new chicken facility in Benton County, Arkansas, between the towns of Decatur and Gentry.

The company plans to invest $300 million in the facility which is expected to create approximately 1,500 new jobs, bringing total employment at the operation to over 2,300 people by 2022. It will also create new contracts with local Arkansas farmers.

The facility will produce fresh and frozen chicken products for retail and restaurant customers with capacity to sell approximately 850 million pounds of poultry meat annually at full production. The company expects to begin new operations in 2019.

“We’re thrilled to bring this project to our community and are grateful for the cooperation from the cities of Decatur and Gentry, local officials, Arkansas Economic Development Commission and the State of Arkansas,” said Todd Simmons, CEO of Simmons Foods, Inc. and Affiliates. “This project positions us to continue meeting our customers’ needs.”

The design will feature modern production facilities and contemporary office space supported with best-in-class environmental technologies. Simmons also plans to increase starting pay at production facilities later this year.

Simmons’ existing operations in the Decatur, Arkansas, area include a feed mill, hatchery, propane business, business offices and a chicken processing facility, along with a dry pet food production facility operated by Simmons Pet Food. Some processing operations will transition from the existing facility to the proposed plant once construction is complete.

Government officials welcome expansion project

Gov. Asa Hutchinson joined Simmons’ leadership and local officials at an event to announce the project on September 27 at Simmons Great Hall on the campus of John Brown University.

“Simmons Foods is a homegrown company that continues to invest heavily in Northwest Arkansas,” Hutchinson said. “This announcement comes just two months after the company held a ribbon-cutting at its new pet food ingredient facility in Siloam Springs, which goes to show the faith they have in the area’s workforce and their commitment to the state. We competed with both Oklahoma and Missouri for this project, and I’m proud to say we won.”

County Judge Barry Moehring also joined the announcement.

"Entrepreneurial families built the backbone of our community,” said Moehring. “We are fortunate to have great, role model businesses in Northwest Arkansas. Simmons is one of those."