Siloam Springs-based Simmons Foods on Thursday (Jan. 6) announced plans to invest $100 million in its prepared foods plant in Van Buren. Company officials said the upgrade will add 100 jobs, bringing total employment at the plant to 700.
The 65,000 square feet added to the plant will provide space for two automated production and packaging lines. The plans also include enhanced interior spaces for employees and improved traffic flow in and around the site. The company expects to break ground on the project in January and have production online by the first quarter of 2023. Nabholz Construction was selected as the general contractor.
“This investment will create 100 new jobs, including highly skilled positions to support robotics and automation processes. The expansion will also support growth in the local economy and assist in meeting market demand for one of the fastest growing segments of the business – cooked products,” Joel Sappenfield, president of Simmons Prepared Foods, said in a statement.
The Van Buren plant now operates three production lines, producing approximately 110 million pounds of fully cooked, chicken products annually. The expansion will increase annual production capacity by approximately 100 million pounds.
“We’re excited to build on our success in the region. Our River Valley team is an important part of our company’s total operations. We have three production locations here in the River Valley as well as a Hiring Center and a Simmons Care Clinic dedicated to providing medical care with no added co-pays exclusively for our team members and their covered dependents,” Sappenfield said.
In March 2021 Simmons Foods opened a hiring center a 4900 Rogers Ave., Suite 103-D, in Fort Smith. The center was created to streamline services for those interested in hourly jobs at one of Simmons Foods’ production plants in the Fort Smith metro area. People can review openings at the center, submit an application, be interviewed and complete necessary health screenings, according to a news release.
Simmons Prepared Foods is one of the largest 15 U.S. poultry producers. The company’s pet food division is the largest supplier of store brand wet pet food in North America. The company has more than 8,000 employees with customers in al 50 states and 40 countries.