One business expanding and another bringing part of their operation to town will lead to 96 new jobs in Fort Smith. Twin Rivers Foods, heavily damaged in the record flooding of the Arkansas River in May, is renovating and updating equipment for poultry processing in an existing facility at 201 N. Second St.
The company will invest $800,000 in renovations to the facility and $350,000 in business equipment upgrades for a total investment of $1.15 million, said Assistant City Director Jeff Dingman.
The company will increase its total employed by 47% with the renovation. Twin Rivers Foods employs 254 people in Fort Smith. With this project, they will add 72 jobs with an average hourly wage of $13.04 per hour, Dingman said.
Nidec Motor Corporation will invest $35,000 in renovations to a facility at 7411 Ellis St. for a new operation in the city. The company also will invest $235,414 in business equipment upgrades for a total investment of $270,414, Dingman said.
“There were several other cities trying to get Twin Rivers to locate there after the flood. We are really happy they decided to stay here. It is a great thing for the City of Fort Smith,” said Mayor George McGill, who noted that with the move of operations, it will cut truck traffic down on Garrison Avenue by 17-18 trucks a day.
Kyoto, Japan-based Nidec Motor Corporation is a manufacturer of commercial, industrial and appliance motors and controls, according to its website. The company employs more than 108,000 people worldwide. As a new business in Fort Smith, Nidec Motor Corporation will offer 24 new professional jobs with an average hourly wage of $35.04 per hour, Dingman said.
“These will not be the people building the motors. These will be the design folks configuring items for construction. It is all new to Fort Smith,” Dingman said.
The Fort Smith Board of Directors approved resolutions at the regular board meeting Tuesday (Oct. 15) to authorize both companies to participate in the state’s “Tax Back” program.
The city received a request for both of these companies from the Arkansas Economic Development Commission and Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce.
“The Fort Smith chamber actively promotes the state’s tax back incentive program to all current and perspective business in the City of Fort Smith. This program allows new or expanding business to receive sales tax rebates on the purchase of building materials and business machinery and equipment) to build or expand their business,” Dingman said.
Any new jobs will be welcome in a metro area that has struggled to gain job growth momentum since the region’s manufacturing sector imploded in the mid-2000s. The August jobless rate in the Fort Smith metro was 3.7%, up from 3.6% in August 2018. The number of employed in the metro during August was 114,220, just below the 114,584 in August 2018. The August employment also is down 11,206 jobs from peak employment of 125,426 in June 2006, a drop of 8.9%.