Simmons to build $300 million poultry processing plant
SILOAM SPRINGS — Simmons Prepared Foods, based in Siloam Springs, announced the construction of a new poultry processing plant to be built between Decatur and Gentry on YCity Road, about two miles south of Simmons’ present facilities near downtown Decatur.
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson joined David Jackson, president and CEO of Simmons Prepared Foods, Barry Moehring, Benton County judge, and Todd Simmons, CEO of Simmons Foods, to unveil plans for the new poultry processing facility during a press conference in Simmons Great Hall at John Brown University Sept. 27.
“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. “This project positions us to continue meeting our costumers’ needs.”
Simmons plans on investing $300 million into the construction of the new facility. Once the new plant goes online in 2019, it will create approximately 1,500 new jobs. That number is expected to grow to more than 2,300 people by 2022. It will also create new contracts with local Arkansas growers.
“Simmons Foods is a homegrown company that continues to invest heavily in Northwest Arkansas,” Governor Hutchinson said. “This announcement comes just two months after the company held a ribboncutting 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.”
Founder Bill Simmons and his business partner, Frank Pluss, opened their first poultry processing facility in Decatur in 1949. It was in operation until 1952 when Simmons decided to move the Decatur operations to a new facility in Siloam Springs.
Shortly after Simmons ceased operations at the Decatur facility, the Decatur Development Corporation (DDC) was organized by Lloyd Peterson and five local Decatur business leaders in an effort to keep the community alive. The DDC invested $250,000 to build a new poultry processing plant, operated by Seymour Processing. Peterson Industries took over the operation in 1963. The Decatur processing plant was eventually sold to Simmons and went into operation under the Simmons’ name July 22, 2008.
The new facility will produce fresh and frozen chicken for retail and restaurant customers with the capacity to sell approximately 850 million pounds of poultry meat annually at full production.
The cities of Decatur and Gentry will experience unprecedented growth once this facility becomes operational. With this expanded workforce, comes new housing opportunities for both cities which will bring more families to this part of Northwest Arkansas. New families will allow both school districts to grow and increase tax revenue for Decatur and Gentry, giving them the opportunity to expand city services.
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’ Decatur facility currently employs around 800 workers. Once the new plant goes online in 2019, the Decatur plant will continue operation in a different role.
On hand for the unveiling ceremony were a delegation of seven civic leaders, city officials and council members from Decatur, and several Gentry officials. Representing Decatur were Bill Montgomery, Linda Martin, Pat and Lester Austin, James Boston, Jeanelle Cox and Joe Savage. Decatur Mayor Bob Tharp was away on business and was unable to attend the event.
In a press release, Tharp expressed his gratitude to the leadership of Simmons Foods and to the Simmons family for partnering with Decatur as they work toward the future of this area.
“The city of Decatur is excited about Simmons’ decision to select the site between Decatur and Gentry for the development of this new facility,” said Tharp. “This project will bring good jobs to the city and to our broader community, supporting housing development and other local businesses in the area.”
In addition to the existing poultry processing plant, Simmons’ operations in the Decatur area include a feed mill, hatchery, propane business and business offices, 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 this project is complete.
Simmons Foods works with farmers, communities and employees to apply more than 65 years of experience to serving customers. With a workforce of more than 5,800 employees in over 30 facilities, Simmons is committed to providing innovative food products and service to the world.
For more information on Simmons Foods, go to simmonsfoods.com.
Simmons Prepared Foods unveiled this rendering of its new $300 million poultry processing plant, to be located between Decatur and Gentry, at a Sept. 27 press conference in Simmons Great Hall at John Brown University in Siloam Springs. The plant is expected to be operational some time in 2019.
(Left) Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson addresses officials and guests during the Simmons Prepared Foods’ press conference in Simmons Great Hall at John Brown University in Siloam Springs on Sept. 27. (Above) Hutchinson (left) talks to James Boston, Decatur public works director, and Bill Montgomery, Decatur City Council member.