Thumbs up for Tyson: JPs' vote signals support for proposed expansion in GF

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Tyson Foods' proposal to build a new $136 million plant in Green Forest appears to have the green light from Carroll County.

The Carroll County Quorum Court voted unanimously Monday night to advise County Judge Sam Barr to authorize the issuance of revenue bonds for the project and a 10-year abatement of property taxes for the new facility.

In lieu of the property taxes, Tyson would make an annual payment to the county equal to 35 percent of the taxes under the company's proposal.

The new facility, which would be built across the street from Tyson's existing plant in Green Forest, would encompass more than 200,000 square feet. Tyson says construction could begin this summer and be completed in late 2017. Once the new plant is fully operational, it would create approximately 85 jobs.

Although Monday's vote by the quorum court is non-binding, it does illustrate support for the project among justices of the peace.

"I think it's a no-brainer," said JP Jack Deaton, who pointed out that in addition to the jobs directly created by the new plant, the project also will bring construction workers and others who will spend money in the county.

JP Larry Swofford pointed to Tyson's long history in Carroll County. The company is the county's largest

employer, with a total of nearly 3,000 people at facilities in Berryville and Green Forest. Tyson has operated the Green Forest plant since 1967, when it purchased the facility from Franz Foods.

"I think this would be worth considering if it was a new company coming in," Swofford said. "But we've got a company that has already proved itself and has helped build this county. They've already done what they said they would do."

Tonya Byers, plant manager for Tyson's Green Forest plant, spoke to the quorum court on Monday. She was joined by Ty Price, manager of Tyson's Berryville complex, which includes facilities in Berryville, Green Forest and Bergman. Byers and Price explained that the expansion would allow Tyson to ship more finished products from Green Forest, rather than having to move products by truck to other facilities for further processing.

JP Lamont Richie told his colleagues that although Barr has sole authority to approve the issuance of bonds and the tax abatement, he would like JPs' advice on how to proceed. On a voice vote, JPs voted 11-0 to advise Barr to approve the project.

The county's next step will be to hire attorneys to manage the bond issuance, at Tyson's expense, and schedule a public hearing on the matter.

Green Forest Mayor Charles Reece and Green Forest School District Superintendent Dr. Matt Summers have expressed their support for the project. The school district would be the entity most impacted by the tax abatement, since 36 of the 46 mills collected as property tax on the location where the new plant will be located are dedicated to the school district.

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