Sim­mons to build $300 mil­lion poultry pro­cess­ing plant

Westside Eagle-Observer - - FRONT PAGE - By Mike Eck­els meck­

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 sim­mons­

Sub­mit­ted Photo

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.

Photo by Mike Eck­els

(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.

Photo by Mike Eck­els

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