March 12, 2014 Edition

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Peco plant to provide
jobs to area residents

Gov. Mike Beebe (left) and Peco CEO Mark Hickman announce that the company will provide 1,000 jobs when it locates in Randolph and Clay counties.

Dalton Sullivan
Star Hearld

After nearly a year of due diligence, negotiations, planning and rumors, Peco Foods announced on Monday morning they are coming to Northeast Arkansas, and bringing 1,000 jobs with them. Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe and Peco President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Hickman made the announcement.

The Tuscaloosa-based poultry manufacturer announced in a press conference at the State Capitol in Little Rock, they would invest $165 million to build a fully-integrated processing plant and hatchery in Pocahontas, and a feed mill in Corning. The Pocahontas facility will be located on the east side of Hwy. 67, between Walnut Ridge and Pocahontas, just north of Hwy. 90 and the Shannon community.

In addition to Randolph County and Clay County officials, members of the state legislature including State Rep. James Ratliff and State Sen. Robert Thompson were on hand for the announcement.

Following his remarks, Gov. Beebe introduced Hickman to those in attendance, and he made the official announcement, that had been rumored for months.

"Our company will invest approximately $165 million in a hatchery, feed mill and processing plant, and we will bring about 1,000 new jobs to Northeast Arkansas."

Hickman said the average wages after a year of employment will be $10.86 an hour at the processing plant and $13 an hour at the mill. He said the new facilities would require contracts with 90 local, independent growers operating about 640 chicken houses, all needing 339,000 bushels of corn and 220 tons of soy meal for feed on a weekly basis.

Randolph County Judge David Jansen said, "This will give an opportunity for Randolph, Clay and Lawrence county citizens to get jobs. It will give some citizens having to work away the opportunity to stay here and save on fuel, wear and tear on their vehicle, as well as more time with the family verses spending two or three hours on the road back and forth to work."

According to Hickman, ground-breaking for the feed mill will be next month, while ground will be broken on the 255,000-square-foot processing plant and 73,000 square-foot hatchery in July. Hickman said construction of the hatchery, processing plant and feed mill should be complete within 18 months.

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