Tyson Family and Tyson Foods give $15 million to Arkansas Children’s Northwest (Updated)

by Kim Souza ([email protected]) 564 views 

(from left) Tyson Family members John Tyson and Cheryl Tyson along with Tyson CEO Donnie Smith and Marcie Doderer, president of Arkansas Children’s Northwest unveil a $15 million gift from Tyson Foods and the Tyson Family on Tuesday in Springdale.

Editor’s note: Story updated with additions throughout.
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Tyson Foods and its founding family announced Tuesday (Aug. 2) a $15 million gift toward the Arkansas Children’s Hospital Northwest now under construction in Springdale.

Little Rock-based Arkansas Children’s Hospital has received much financial support from the Northwest Arkansas community for the $165 million specialty hospital. ACH Northwest announced the hospital in August of last year and the gifts from individual family and corporate donors have been rolling in over the past few months. The $15 million gift from Springdale-based Tyson Foods is the largest single contribution in Arkansas Children’s history, according to hospital officials.

The new hospital in Springdale will include the Tyson Family Tower. The tower will anchor the 233,613 square feet of inpatient beds, emergency care, diagnostics services and clinical space and will represent the cornerstone of the hospital for years to come, said Marcy Doderer, president and CEO of Arkansas Children’s Northwest.

“This gift will transform healthcare for children in the region and create a wellness destination for families for generations to come,”  Doderer added, “To have the Tyson name attached to this project demonstrates what an impact this facility will have on the area. It’s a testament to the outstanding legacy of this remarkable family and company.”

She said Northwest Arkansas was chosen for the first sister hospital outside the Little Rock base because 200,000 children in this region as far south as Fort Smith could benefit from having the services closer to home. She adds that never in her career has she seen a region come together and support a healthcare project in the cohesive and charitable manner as she’s witnessed in Northwest Arkansas over the past few months.

Tyson Foods Board Chairman John Tyson along with Tyson CEO Donnie Smith made the presentation in the company’s Discovery Center.

John Tyson, board chairman of Tyson Foods, calls the new Arkansas Children’s Northwest a “game-changer” for the entire region. The $165 million specialty hospital is under construction in Springdale.
John Tyson, board chairman of Tyson Foods, calls the new Arkansas Children’s Northwest a “game-changer” for the entire region. The $165 million specialty hospital is under construction in Springdale.

“The Tyson Family and Tyson Foods have a long history of investing in the future of Springdale and Northwest Arkansas,” said John Tyson. “We’re proud to continue that legacy with this gift to Arkansas Children’s Northwest. This is a game-changer for this region and a very special day for us all. We hope our families at Tyson won’t  have a need to go to Arkansas Children’s Hospital, but if they do there will be local care they can receive to help compliment the other healthcare we have in this region.”

He said Barbara Tyson, his aunt and a company director had a longtime personal relationship with Arkansas Children’s Hospital caring for a family member. Though Barbara Tyson could not attend the gift unveil, he said she was an important factor in the family’s investment in this project.

Donnie Smith, Tyson Foods CEO, said the company is honored to be able to support a project that will have a direct impact on the region. He cited two Tyson employees who already had a relationship with the hospital after their infant children received life-saving care at the Little Rock hospital.

“As a parent myself I understand the importance that this hospital will have for the entire community and surrounding region,” he added.

John Tyson also said this is another example of how companies and families work toward a common goal that benefits the entire region. He said the Northwest Arkansas Council and those board discussions over the years put the infrastructure needs of Northwest Arkansas into four main buckets — transportation, education, healthcare and the arts. He said this project helps boost the healthcare bucket.

“We have seen all our local hospitals commit to expansion with substantial investments in recent months and this is another layer to that plan that will help to complete the healthcare infrastructure needed to support our growing population. Gary and Robin George, longtime supporters of Arkansas Children’s, got the ball rolling with their land gift which is centrally located in the region and now other families now have a chance to invest as well,” Tyson said.

With the gift, the Northwest Arkansas community has now pledged $45.5 million for the construction of Arkansas Children’s Northwest. While the construction is projected to cost about $165 million, the total cost of the project including personnel and equipment is estimated to be $427.7 million over the next five years. The ACH Foundation is expected to formally announce its fundraising campaign during the upcoming Gala of Hope slated for Aug. 5 at the John Q. Hammons Center in Rogers.

The Springdale facilities board in April approved the issue of $85 million in revenue bonds for the hospital construction, which would leave about $75 million that would need to be raised by donations to cover the construction costs, according to officials with the fundraising arm of the foundation.

The Tyson Foods and Tyson family gift comes on the heels of four other $1 million in July from local families that have personal ties to Arkansas Children’s. In early May Walmart and the Walmart Foundation kicked off a local fundraising effort with $8 million contributed to the construction project. J.B. Hunt Transport made a $5 million commitment to the ACH Northwest  hospital construction.

John Tyson also said the money raised in Northwest Arkansas for this project stays here and the Springdale hospital will have its own board and fundraising arm. As the region grows, he said there will be opportunities for the Northwest campus to specialize into areas like research or specific surgeries, of which the local board will decide.

The campus is being designed by Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects of Fayetteville and FKP Architects of Houston, Texas. Nabholz Construction is overseeing construction. The hospital is scheduled to open in January 2018.