Peco Foods, Inc. awarded economic grant, 300 jobs coming to Ind. Co.

BATESVILLE, AR (KAIT) – Three hundred new, full-time job positions are will be coming to Batesville by March 2013.

Peco Foods, Inc. has just been awarded a $175,000 local economic development incentive grant by Independence County Judge Robert Griffin and the Quorum Court, says Independence County Economic Development director Larry Jones.

"This is very important because it shows that we're continuing to grow, and that our poultry processing industry is very viable and continuing to expand," Jones said.

Jones adds that Peco Foods will invest $13.8 million into the Batesville plant and mill operation in Newark as part of the expansion.

The Peco Foods announcement comes after ConAgra Foods, Inc. announced plans to lay off more than 200 employees from its plant. The layoffs were announced May 11.

ConAgra's frozen dinners production operation will move to Marshall, MO, and approximately 250 employees will be affected by the transition. Spokespersons said the move is necessary to manage costs and make operations as efficient as possible.

Main Street Barber Shop owner Scott Dickie hopes the announcement from Peco Foods will offset the ConAgra announcement. "I think that's great because ConAgra just got rid of (250) jobs," he said.

Independence County Quorum Court Judge Robert Griffin said the $13.8 million coupled with the county incentive grant for the Peco Foods expansion speaks to the caliber of the Batesville workforce.

"They have a resource here that a lot of communities don't have. They may have an available labor pool, but they do not have the quality of labor we feel that we have here in Independence County," he said.

Dickie hopes the effects of having more people in the city employed will benefit downtown business owners like him and Jillene Robertson.

"Everybody needs jobs, and the more options, the better off we are," she said.

"Hopefully the new jobs and other businesses will come in, and other people will start more businesses and create more of a small business atmosphere, what Batesville wants," said Dickie.

Independence County local economic development incentive grants are funded through a countywide .25 cent sales tax that was approved in 2008.

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