Cumberland nixes deal for chicken plant

Posted September 22, 2014

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— Cumberland County officials said Monday that they have abandoned plans to lure a chicken processing plant to the county.

Sanderson Farms has been looking at building a $113 million plant in the Cedar Creek Business Center, a county-owned 480-acre industrial park east of Interstate 95.

Commissioner Marshall Faircloth said that, a week after the Board of Commissioners couldn't muster enough votes to pass an incentives package for the plant, officials have decided to drop their recruitment of Sanderson Farms altogether.

Board of Commissioners Chairwoman Jeanette Council polled commissioners over the weekend about selling land in the industrial park to Sanderson without the incentives package, but the majority of commissioners said they wouldn't vote to sell the land to the company, according to Faircloth.

"It varied among commissioners from environmental issues to the type of industry that it is to the amount that they pay and to the resistance in the community," he said as to the board's decision.

Fayetteville could still work out a deal for the plant, which could bring 1,000 jobs to the area, Faircloth said. Sanderson also could purchase land in Cumberland County not associated with the industrial park and open a plant without county incentives, he said.

"Cumberland County commissioners cannot stop the company from coming into the county and locating on properly zoned land," he said. "But as far as Cumberland county's involvement with the Cedar Creek Business Park and incentives to locate here, we are out of the issue."

Fayetteville City Councilwoman Kathy Jensen said city officials are examining their options with regard to the plant.

"We do need the jobs here in Fayetteville," Jensen said. "But we do want to make sure that we do our due diligence and make sure all questions are answered, especially when it comes to the environment."

Residents who live near the Cedar Creek Business Center have been vocal against building the plant, citing concerns about the smell, noise, pollution and potential water contamination that might be associated with it.

In addition to the jobs at the plant, the company would contract with about 80 chicken farms in a five-county area to supply the plant.

Sanderson executives said they haven't gotten any official word from Cumberland County that the deal is dead. Despite the mounting opposition, the company said it wants to be a good neighbor if it decides to build near Fayetteville.

"That's the goal of all people – to be where they're wanted," spokesman Bob Billingsley said. "This was a site that was made available to us in the beginning to look at it, and it would be one that would work for the community. So, we're going to continue to work on that and see where it takes us."

Sanderson has options on several other tracts of land in Cumberland County and isn't ready to throw in the towel on the deal yet, Billingsley said. A city in Virginia also is courting the company to locate the plant there.


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  • kermit60 Sep 24, 2014

    They didn't like the type of business? I'm sure Microsoft will be building here shortly and looking for executives to earn 6 figure salaries. Keep waiting commissioners, you just lost a chance to gain 1000 tax payers.

  • hfm83 Sep 23, 2014

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    Probably more than a few reasons for it not being built on the proposed site. Just seems that any time a company wants to set up shop in rural parts of the state, they are beat down and ran out of town if they're not paying big time salaries. This particular piece of property has sat vacant for almost 20 years after being bought with tax payer money. It's about time to get something out if it. As far as giving these companies incentives for locating their business in the area, I am not a fan of it but sometimes you have to spend money to make money. Also, if being $17-18 trillion in debt is not broke, I missed out in math class when I was in school. If your account was in the hole wouldn't you say you are broke. Anytime you give out more than you take in you're going to be BROKE. Stop all the handouts to worthless, capable people and the account might get in the green.

  • btneast Sep 23, 2014

    The LAST thing the US needs is more low pay/minimum wage pay jobs, You're making a huge assumption that everyone at this plant would have been paid minimum wage, which is far from the truth .Secondly, what you think you need and what you have are sometimes different. Many people in this area would have loved to had the opportunity to work there. Working there IS voluntary, if its not your cup of tea, then don't apply.......but now, NO ONE has at least an opportunity.

  • btneast Sep 23, 2014

    All I'm saying is bring in some better paying companies. I think you are missing the point that "better paying" companies are not going to want to locate in this area. Better paying jobs require a labor pool that this area doesn't have .

  • redapace Sep 22, 2014

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    Wait a minute. Is the plant not being built because lazy people that feel entitled to $20-$25/hr would rather not work and just collect food stamps, or is the plant not being built because a corporation that feels entitled to "incentives", otherwise known as having someone else pay to set up their business, would rather take their operation somewhere else where someone else iIS willing to help pay their way? Who is dependent on the government here? Sounds like it is Sanderson Farms to me. And BTW if the government is as broke as you say it is, how can it afford to give millions in handouts to corporations that aren't eager enough to do business to pay to set up their own operation?

  • USMC Vet Sep 22, 2014

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    All I'm saying is bring in some better paying companies.
    And with the links I provided earlier today, I showed Sanderson isn't one of them because they've been investigated and charged with hiring undocumented workers.
    How would a company doing that help a US Citizen or even legal immigrant living in Cumberland County?

  • Wheelman Sep 22, 2014

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    My math says it's better to supplement them than to have to completely support them. If you need $1500 a month to live, I'd rather you earn $1000 and I give you $500 than to have to fork over the $1500 each month. If you're like most, you would probably feel better about being employed as well. And don't give me the hoorah about the pay is too low. A better economy creates better pay, and you working hard to better yourself makes you more valuable in the workforce. Companies pay what they have to in order to get the work done. Supply and demand is the first rule of a free economy.

  • Wheelman Sep 22, 2014

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    So what kind of jobs do you expect them to be able to do? These are the same workers who would be textile mill workers or farm laborers or a host of other fairly unskilled poorly educated workers looking for jobs. Do you not think it is better that they have a job they are capable of performing than no job at all? So it doesn't pay a lot. Even a low paying job is better than no job. I would rather my tax dollars go to help supplement than to completely replace. And believe it or not, many people take pride in having a job, even if it is a low paying job. For those that want to work it is good for their soul. There is pride in being employed.

  • hfm83 Sep 22, 2014

    This place is far from being " in the sticks " !!! More like 5-6 miles from the Market House , which is downtown Fayetteville. Regardless, it would have brought jobs to the community that some people need. The problem is people would rather receive entitlement monies than work for anything anymore ! The mentality is if they're not paying $20-$25 per hour, we don't even want to worry with it. Because of welfare and entitlement mentality, nobody thinks they should have to " crawl before you walk" anymore. The way the economy is so heavily reliant on the government in Fayetteville, they should have been begging for these 1000 new jobs. Especially as BROKE as the government is !!! Those pie jobs at ol'Ft. Bragg are drying up every day.

  • sunshine1040 Sep 22, 2014

    Many manage to go to school while working those low paying jobs so they can get promotions and move up to management. Sorry but if those that cannot live on minimum wage jobs would put off having children but would spend their time reading they would not be holding minimum pay jobs for a lifetime