Golden Anniversary: Berryville, Tyson Foods celebrate 50 years
The Greater Berryville Chamber of Commerce and the City of Berryville last week hosted a special reception honoring Tyson Foods for its 50-year presence in the community.
The event, held Wednesday, July 14, at the Berryville Community Center, was intended to spotlight Tyson’s community involvement over the past half-century, not just as an employer, but also as a good corporate citizen.
“Everybody here has been a recipient of their gracious contribution and donations from Tyson’s at various events all over this community many, many times,” said Dean Lee, executive director of the Berryville chamber. “This is why we’re here for them today and because of all they’ve done for our community.”
Lee went on to highlight Tyson’s place in Berryville’s history, comparing it to other long-standing enterprises including Hanby Lumber — the eighth-oldest business in Arkansas — First National Bank of North Arkansas, Anstaff, CS Bank and Nelson’s Funeral Service.
“There’s a lot of history right there,” Lee said. “Tyson began [operations here in Berryville] in 1971 and is celebrating 50 years.”
Tyson Foods was founded in 1931 when John Tyson began delivering chickens to larger markets across the Midwest and incorporated his new business in 1947 as Tyson Feed and Hatchery Inc. The company continued to expand through the 1950s and went public in 1963 as Tyson’s Foods Inc.
In 1972, the year after the company purchased the former Ocoma Foods facility in Berryville, the name changed once again, becoming the now-familiar Tyson Foods Inc.
Since that initial move in Berryville, the company has continued to grow and now operates three plants in Carroll County — including two in Green Forest — and has become the largest single employer in the county with more than 2,800 employees, providing a steady paycheck to multiple generations of local residents, a needed boon to the county economy and an eager hand to many local charities and organizations.
Berryville Mayor Tim McKinney called Tyson a great partner for the city.
“I think back to 1971, I don’t think Tyson’s had a market cap of $1 billion. Berryville’s city budget wasn’t even $1 million dollars,” McKinney said. “Now Tyson’s is a $26 billion company and Berryville has a budget of over $10 million. We’ve kind of grown up together and they’ve made that growing a lot easier. Back when Tyson’s came to Berryville, I don’t think we were a city of even 2,000 people. They’ve provided a living for so many people.”
After taking a few moments to recognize some special guests in attendance — including a handful of state legislators or their representatives, city and chamber officials — McKinney went on to describe Tyson’s history of involvement with the city, praising them for their cooperation, particularly in dealing with wastewater.
“They know if they’ve got a problem, they call us,” he said. “We’ve got a problem, we call them. It works out great for both of us. We’ve seen the city grow and they provide so many jobs and a diversity to our community, and it’s made it a better place to live and work and do business.”
“We’re proud of the history of Berryville and we’re proud to have Tyson’s as a part of it.”
As a way to recognize Tyson’s contributions to both the city and its residents, McKinney presented a proclamation declaring Thursday, July 15, as “Tyson Foods Day” in Berryville.
“Tyson’s, thank you for what you’ve done for our community and we always look forward to working with you in the future and want you to be a part of our community for a long time,” McKinney said.
In the proclamation, McKinney highlighted some of Tyson’s more recent contributions, including pandemic-relief efforts that included distributing food, providing $60,000 in grants for teachers for classroom projects, in addition to grants provided to several area food banks and healthcare facilities, support to many volunteer fire departments throughout Carroll County and the company’s major involvement in the county’s Connect 4 program, a cooperative vocational training effort between the county’s three school districts and local industry.
“I call upon all the people of Berryville to observe this day in celebration of Tyson Foods and our close community partnership,” McKinney said, reading from the proclamation. “Further, on behalf of the Berryville City Council, we hereby recognize and remember Tyson Foods on the 50th anniversary of its production facility in Berryville and for its partnership with the city of Berryville, its support of the citizens of our community and its generous financial support to the non-profits and charities in our community.”
Not to be left out, chamber board president Tyler Squires also presented Berryville with a commemorative poster for the organization’s 35th annual Ice Cream Social. Tyson Foods signed on as the event’s presenting sponsor in June as part of an agreement representing a $10,000 contribution from Tyson for a one-year deal with an option for an additional two years for another $15,000.
“I do want to reiterate again the importance that Tyson’s has played in our community and how grateful the chamber is to be able to have Tyson’s both as a member and as a partner for the events that that we do and being able to support businesses broadly in Berryville,” Squires said. “It takes investment from larger businesses like Tyson’s in things like the chamber to be able to encourage and develop programs and events that we can do to allow small businesses to flourish in Berryville.”
Lee said Tyson’s involvement with Berryville serves as “the perfect model for what a long-term relationship between a business and community should be.”
“We treasure that relationship,” Lee said.
Tyson complex manager Ty Price said the company is thankful as well.
“Tyson Foods came out on the best end of that relationship,” said Price, who was joined by Berryville plant manager Mike Sigmon and human resources manager Mike Armstrong. “No doubt in our mind. We can’t tell you how much we appreciate this community, this city. Our team members — and us three — are going to do our best to help even those scales.”