Chicken processor says 'no thanks' to Cumberland, flies to Robeson

Posted March 12, 2015

— 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.


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  • Forest Hazel Mar 12, 2015
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    Ok, it's not the ideal business to have in the county, I think everyone understands that. But apparently IBM and General Motors were not shopping for a new location at the moment. Robeson County needs economic growth worse than any county in the state, and Sanderson locating there will provide 1100 new jobs, not to mention the local businesses that will benefit from the new plant. I understand that many people, particularly in the Triangle area, are against chicken plants just as a matter of principal, but they don't seem to be willing to do much to help out the folks in Robeson and the surrounding area that need the employment opportunities this will create. So at this point, it's a whole lot better than nothing.

  • Mary Zulch Mar 12, 2015
    user avatar

    Cumberland County is trying very hard to keep all of its people alive. No special systems for waste water treatment (millions of dollars), What good are any of you if you are dying or dead from pollution? Cumberland County made the right choice. I'm sorry if a lot of you believe a job, any job, is more important than yours and your children's lives. I know you need employment opportunities, but polluting your ground and water to a point you will all get sick is not the way.
    Sanderson Farms is low cost. Very low quality. They still haven't moved to no antibiotics in their birds. As many other chicken growers have. That should say something right there. Your lives and health for their profit. Not such a nice company to work for or live it?

  • Mark Farmer Mar 12, 2015
    user avatar

    Cumberland county believes that keeping un-employment high they are creating better opportunities for residents to collect government supplements.

  • Marshall Autry Mar 12, 2015
    user avatar

    Chicken will taste a lot better now that we don't have to smell the plant, see the feathers, and pollute our streams and river. I am pleased that this plant will eliminate poverty in Robeson County.