One of Northeast Arkansas’ largest manufacturers to add jobs

by George Jared ( 371 views 

The second largest employer in Jackson County and its top manufacturer will add 85 jobs in the coming weeks. Shearer’s Snacks is in the process of hiring new employees, and the company hopes to reach its goal by early December.

Newport Economic Development Commission Executive Director Jon Chadwell told Talk Business & Politics no expansion is planned at the plant, but the company needs more workers to meet greater demand for its products, he said.

“It’s huge,” Chadwell said. “It’s like getting a new company in town. The only difference is there’s no infrastructure or any thing else to deal with. I think most towns would like to add 85 jobs.”

When the hiring is complete, the company will employ 480 workers. The new jobs range from packers, production line workers, and supervisors. The Newport Economic Development Commission will help the company by providing advertising and a jobs fair. Shearer’s Snacks has operated a plant in Newport for the last 40 years.

Shearer’s Snacks founders bought a snack food distributorship in the mid-1970s in Ohio. The company has 11 production facilities nationwide. Its products include kettle cooked potato chips, traditional potato chips, tortilla chips, rice crisps, whole & multi grain chips, pretzels, popcorn, popped chips, baked chips, cheese curls, a variety of pellet based and extruded snacks, as well as a full line of premium, national brand equivalent and value cookies, crackers and wafers.

Employment numbers have steadily improved in Jackson County in 2017. At the beginning of the year, the county had an unemployment rate of 7.2%. It has dropped to 5.4%, mirroring trends across the state. The number of unemployed workers (431) has dropped by about 25% since January. The civilian workforce has grown by about 1% to 6,017 workers.

During the last six years Jackson County’s population has dropped 4.3% to 17,221 residents, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The median household income is $31,261. About 27.5% of the population lives at or below the federal poverty line.

Shearer’s Snacks isn’t the only employer expanding in Jackson County. The Newport Economic Development Commission is set to host a jobs fair for the two state prisons in the county, the Grimes and McPherson units. The prisons are set to hire about 20 new workers. An additional 100 jobs in the local economy is a positive step forward, Chadwell said.

“It’s good news for us, that’s for sure,” he said.