Tyson goes downtown
by Lawrence Aylward
SPRINGDALE, Ark. – John Tyson, chairman of Tyson Foods Inc., is a man on a mission to help transform downtown Springdale into the city’s nerve center. Today, Tyson reaffirmed the company’s commitment to help rebuild downtown Springdale by sharing more about the company’s plans and vision for the area.
“We’re collaborating with the Downtown Springdale Alliance, the Chamber of Commerce and other business leaders on ways to make this area a hub of innovation,” Tyson said. “We hope others will join the effort to help make downtown Springdale an intersection where commerce, food, the arts and families meet.”
Last January, Tyson Foods announced a $1 million gift to the Downtown Springdale Alliance. Tyson said the purpose of that donation was to help jump-start the revitalization of downtown and bring more people back to Emma Street, a main street running through the area. He said the company has plans to locate more than 300 of its corporate team members to a new downtown building.
Tyson revealed plans for property the company owns in the city’s downtown, including its original headquarters located at 319 E. Emma Ave. and the adjacent building at 317 E. Emma Ave., formerly known as the Brown Hatchery building. A new two-story, 44,000 square-foot structure will be constructed on the site, between and behind the two older buildings, preserving the company’s original frontage. Workspace for about 250 people will be created by the project, which is scheduled to be completed in 2017. Demolition of several other buildings on Tyson Foods’ property will begin this month.
The original headquarters building was first constructed around 1920 and was once home to the Springdale Produce Company, owned and operated by John W. Tyson, John Tyson’s grandfather. A fire partially destroyed the building in the early 1950s. It was razed and rebuilt in 1952 and became home to Tyson’s Feed & Hatchery until 1969 when the company, now known as Tyson Foods, moved to its current location.
Tyson Foods is also renovating the 28,000 square-foot building located at 516 E. Emma, named the Tyson Foods JTL Building. It will become the new home to the Tyson Company Store, a wholesale outlet where team members and others can purchase Tyson Foods products and a limited selection of staple grocery items. About 75 people will work at the JTL Building beginning next spring.
“Downtown Springdale is where we started,” Tyson said. “There’s a rich past here, but also an exciting future – and, we plan to be part of it.”
Tyson Foods employs more than 6,000 people in Springdale and nearly 23,000 people in Arkansas, and more than 1,700 family farmers in the state grow chickens for its operations. The company also purchases cattle, pigs, grain, diesel and other utilities in Arkansas and estimates its annual statewide economic impact at more than $1.6 billion.