Tyson narrows search for poultry complex in Kansas

by Joel Crews
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Tyson
Sixteen communities submitted written proposals hoping to lure the company's $320M project.
 
KANSAS CITY – Since last month’s announcement by Tyson Foods Inc. that its plans to build a $320 million poultry complex near Tonganoxie, Kansas were put on hold after county officials rescinded its offer of $5 million in bond incentives, plenty of other municipalities in the state have expressed interest in luring Tyson to consider their communities for the project.

The proposed facility is projected to employ up to 1,600 workers, and the processing plant that is part of the complex — which would include a hatchery and a feed mill — would have a slaughtering capacity of 1.25 million chickens per week. The annual economic impact for the state of Kansas is estimated to be $150 million, according to Tyson officials. After company, city and state officials announced in early September that the project was planned for Leavenworth County, just south of Tonganoxie, a grass-roots campaign protesting the project ultimately led to city officials voting to oppose the proposal. Tyson officials announced it would seek other possible locations in and around Kansas.

“We’ve been glad to see that several communities reached out to the Kansas Dept. of Agriculture (KDA) in the past few weeks with interest in our investment,” said Worth Sparkman, Tyson spokesman, in an e-mail to MEAT+POULTRY. “Today, we can tell you that KDA has helped us narrow the search to a few communities that offer the infrastructure, labor pool, farmer interest and land required for this investment,” he said.

According to the Kansas Dept. of Agriculture, about 40 communities have expressed interest in the Tyson project. Among those, 16 prepared proposals and letters of interest that were submitted to the KDA.

“We compiled those proposals and forwarded them all to Tyson, who then identified three of those communities to look at for further evaluation,” according to an e-mail from Heather Lansdowne, director of communications with the KDA. “We have not released any of the names of communities which submitted proposals, nor those which were selected by Tyson for this next stage of the process,” she wrote.

According to media reports, two of the finalists are Sedgwick County, which includes Wichita, in south-central Kansas and Cloud County, including the city of Concordia, in the north-central part of the state.

The pending facility would be the seventh community in Kansas where Tyson operates. The company estimates its total financial impact on the state, including property taxes, charitable contributions, grain purchases and utilities topped $2.4 billion in fiscal 2016.  

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