Tyson Foods announced Wednesday (Oct. 5) plans to consolidate corporate operations at the company’s headquarters in Springdale beginning next year. It’s estimated to add around 1,000 jobs to the campus that now has about 2,000 workers.
The move will include corporate employees from Dakota Dunes, S.D., and two offices in the greater Chicago area. That will be roughly 1,000 corporate jobs from Tyson Fresh Meats business in Dakota Dunes and the Hillshire Brands offices and marketing positions in the Chicago area, according to Derek Burleson, corporate spokesman for Tyson Foods.
“Tyson’s diverse portfolio of products and brands provides us with an unmatched strategic advantage to serve our customers,” said Donnie King, Tyson Foods president and CEO. “Bringing our talented corporate team members and businesses together under one roof unlocks greater opportunities to share perspectives and ideas, while also enabling us to act quickly to solve problems and provide the innovative products solutions that our customers deserve and value.”
Tyson will need to expand its corporate offices in Springdale to absorb the hundreds of personnel who chose to relocate. Tyson said each employee was told about the pending move this week and given the option to relocate to Springdale and Northwest Arkansas. Tyson said there are no layoffs associated with the consolidation.
Burleson said there are roughly 2,000 corporate employees in the Springdale home office, and the company has 500 in Dakota Dunes and 500 in Chicago, which will bring the local corporate employment to 3,000 next year when all the relocations are completed. Tyson said employees who decide to relocate will get financial assistance to make the move, and those who do not will be offered severance pay based on years of service.
Tyson said the Springdale home office expansion will take place over several years. It will include indoor and outdoor spaces designed to foster collaboration, connection and creativity. It will include features to enhance the work experience through diverse spaces that offer the latest technology. The company said more details on the office expansion will be announced in the coming months.
Tyson has grown over the years through the $3.2 billion acquisition of IBP based in Dakota Dunes in 2001. The office has remained the headquarters of Tyson’s Fresh Meats business which includes beef and pork operations. Tyson also acquired Hillshire Brands for $6.6 billion in 2014 and kept many corporate jobs in Chicago and in the Hillshire Brands innovation Center in Downers Grove, Ill.
Tyson also moved many of its marketing jobs to Chicago under the direction of former CEO Tom Hayes, who ran Tyson Foods from December 2016 to November 2018, when he resigned for personal reasons. Hayes is now the CEO of Ocean Spray Cranberries Inc., based in Middleborough, Mass.
While Northwest Arkansas is a growing metropolitan area, there could be challenges for Tyson Foods to relocate up to 1,000 people into the region. Housing supplies remain challenged, and employers continue to struggle to find workers.
Alan Ellstrand, associate dean of programs and research at the University of Arkansas, said there is something to be gained by having one corporate office as it can build camaraderie and enhance communications to foster a more cohesive corporate workforce.
Nelson Peacock, CEO of the Northwest Arkansas Council, said the Tyson news speaks to the company’s belief that it can get the people it needs, whether relocating them or hiring them. He said there will be some challenges as the region continues to need more housing at various price levels, particularly in downtown areas.
He said roughly 60% of the people living in Northwest Arkansas have relocated to the region from elsewhere. And while the growth trajectory is likely to slow from the record pace of past decades, it is great to see the region’s anchor employers, from the University of Arkansas to Tyson Foods, J.B. Hunt Transport and Walmart, growing and investing in their local presence despite outgrowing the region in many respects.
Workforce challenges in Northwest Arkansas are real, but Tyson Foods’ relocating corporate office jobs is a plus, according to Springdale Mayor Doug Sprouse. He said it’s good news for the state, too, bringing jobs in from other areas to give the local labor market a healthy boost.
“We know not all of the 1,000 or so people will want to make the move, but those jobs will still likely have to be filled. This is particularly encouraging given where the economy is right now and projections of a recession in 2023,” Sprouse said.