Chicken processor says 'no thanks' to Cumberland, flies to Robeson
Posted March 12, 2015
Saint Pauls, N.C. — After being rejected twice by Cumberland County officials before being courted by them in recent weeks, Sanderson Farms Inc. has decided to locate its planned 1,100-employee chicken processing plant in Robeson County, officials said Thursday.
The Laurel, Miss.-based company plans to invest $139 million in the St. Pauls plant and hatchery and its existing feed mill in Kinston over the next three years, officials said.
“The additional capacity of 1.25 million birds per week represented by the new complex will provide new marketing opportunities for the company in the fresh food service market," Joe Sanderson, chairman and chief executive of Sanderson Farms, said in a statement.
The St. Pauls complex will have a $28 million payroll when fully operational, officials said.
Sanderson Farms had eyed a site in Cedar Creek Business Center, a 480-acre industrial park east of Interstate 95 owned by Cumberland County, for the chicken plant. But Cumberland County commissioners couldn't agree on whether to offer the company any incentives to build there and waffled for months on the deal, twice voting it down before finally agreeing in January.
The indecision provided an opening for others to pursue the plant. Hoke County officials were most vocal about their bid before Robeson County swept in and won the battle.
Sanderson Farms qualified for a grant of up to $1 million from the One North Carolina Fund, which provides financial assistance for projects that create jobs in the state. Companies receive no upfront money and must meet job and investment targets to obtain the grant, which includes matching funds from local sources.
North Carolina ranks third nationally in poultry production, and Sanderson Farms is the No. 3 poultry processor, with more than 9.3 million chickens a week. The company operates 11 plants in the United States, including Kinston, that employ 11,800 people combined.