Kansas county withdraws bid for Tyson poultry complex

Officials in Sedgwick County, Kansas, have decided to withdraw the county's bid to attract a future Tyson Foods poultry complex.

Roy Graber Headshot
(Andrea Gantz)
(Andrea Gantz)

Officials in Sedgwick County, Kansas, have decided to withdraw the county's bid to attract a future Tyson Foods poultry complex.

Sedgwick County -- which includes Wichita, the state’s largest city – was earlier named as a finalist for a Tyson Foods poultry complex. Tyson, on November 30, announced that it had chosen Humboldt, Tennessee, as the location for its newest poultry complex. However, at the same time, Tyson stated that it will continue to consider other sites for future poultry production expansion.

Sedgwick County put itself into consideration for a Tyson plant after plans to build the plant in Tonganoxie, Kansas, in Leavenworth County, were put on hold amid public opposition.

‘There is not support in Sedgwick County’

The Greater Wichita Partnership, in a press release posted on its website on December 7, stated that “through preliminary research and discussions with key partners, it has become clear that there is not support in Sedgwick County for incentives for this project at this time.”

Sedgwick County Commissioner Michael O’Donnell, who earlier in a tweet invited Tyson Foods to consider Sedgwick County, stated in the release, that the county will focus its economic development efforts elsewhere.

“No community has unlimited resources. That means every community has to make decisions on when and where in the marketplace to compete,” O’Donnell said. “Sedgwick County has communicated to oru state partners that this is one of those times when we need to focus our energy and resources on other economic development opportunities.”

Community feedback

Even before the decision to locate the plant in Tennessee was made, there were skeptics in Sedgwick County. County commissioners there were informed by some residents that they did not want the poultry complex, which prompted the county to seek public input on the matter. On the Sedgwick County website, it asked for input via email or on an online forum.

Feedback from that effort helped lead to the company’s decision to not offer financial incentives to land the facility.

Other Kansas counties maintain interest in Tyson

When Sedgwick County was being considered as a Kansas finalist for the Tyson Foods complex, two other counties in the state were also identified as contenders: Montgomery County and Cloud County.

Economic development organizations representing both counties stated that they will continue to pursue a Tyson Foods poultry complex.

“We understand that Tyson needs to expand their infrastructure in order to keep up with demand,” stated Ashley Hutchinson, executive director of CloudCorp. “We hope to show them in the coming months that Cloud County and the 81 Corridor are eager and ready for the opportunity to partner with Tyson.”

The Montgomery County Action Council, stated that it is “still on track” to present a final proposal to Tyson Foods at the beginning of 2018. “We look forward to continuing to work with Tyson Foods as they further evaluate expansion of their poultry business unit growth opportunities in Kansas.”

Sedgwick County is in south-central Kansas, Cloud County is in north-central Kansas, and Montgomery County is in southeastern Kansas.

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