Simmons Foods’ plans to build a poultry plant in Benton County, Arkansas, have been approved by the county’s planning board.
The board on December 20 approved the plans for the facility by a 6-0 vote, with one board member abstaining, according to a Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette report.
The board earlier held a hearing on the matter on December 6, but the discussion was eventually tabled until the most recent meeting. At both gatherings, people spoke in support of and in opposition to the planned poultry plant.
Simmons Foods, the 18th largest broiler company in the United States, in September announced its intent to build the Benton County facility. The company stated that it 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.
Simmons Foods intends for the plant to 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 plant’s design will feature modern production facilities and contemporary office space supported with best-in-class environmental technologies, according to Simmons Foods.
The company expects to begin new operations at the plant, which will be located between the communities of Gentry and Decatur, in 2019.
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.
Once the new facility is fully operational, it will operate 24 hours a day from Sunday through Friday with three shifts each day -- two production shifts and one cleanup shift, David Jackson, Simmons Foods president and chief operating officer, told the board.