PECO means big changes, great opportunities for Randolph, Clay Counties

POCAHONTAS, AR (KAIT) - Poultry, Egg Company or PECO Foods made a huge announcement Monday morning in Little Rock. A thousand jobs will be coming to Randolph and Clay counties.

Local officials and businesses are excited for what that might mean in the long run for two Region 8 counties that could use an economic boost.

From all aspects, PECO foods will help Randolph, Clay and surrounding counties and it took a lot of work to get there.

"I think it was a combination of everyone working together to get this deal done," Clay County Electric Co-Op General Manager David Smith told Region 8 News.

He explained that PECO will become their largest customer.

"We're looking at PECO being like 12-14 megawatts," he said. Smith explained that's four times the load of their current largest customer.

Smith said in the long run, this could mean more stable rates for everyone.

"Of course if rates are stable, that means they're not rising as fast as they would originally."

He said PECO also brings some of their long-term plans to the forefront such as building a new substation.

Growth like that is expected all around.

"Hopefully this will be the starting point to bring more jobs, more industry," Dan Haley told Region 8 News.

Haley knows first hand what a chicken hatchery, processing plant and mill can do for a community, especially our area farmers. Haley helped build a similar operation in Batesville 20 years ago.

"When I first started into this thing, he said "you watch as we're building these houses, you watch these families, they'll either add onto their houses, build a new house, buy a new truck, buy a new tractor"...and he was 100% right." Haley said that kind of success for farmers will "absolutely" happen in this venture as well.

Haley now owns Haley's Lumber and Metal in Pocahontas. He said from a business standpoint, he's looking forward to increased traffic.

"It takes traffic to get people to stop," Haley said.

That increased traffic might just push the state to widen 67 from Pocahontas to Corning as well. A move city officials have been wanting for awhile.

"Now you can't ignore the fact that we will need a four lane," Pocahontas Mayor Frank Bigger told Region 8 News.

Bigger said infrastructure throughout the city will grow as a result of PECO coming to town.

"This day and time you either get larger or you go out of business," Bigger said. Going out of business wasn't an option.

Tim Scott, Executive Director for the Randolph County Chamber of Commerce said PECO coming will not only grow Randolph and Clay counties, but bring in more business as time goes on.

"This is probably the best news that Pocahontas has had in 50-60 years or even maybe, literally the history of the economic development of the town," Scott said.

Groundbreaking on all three sites should happen by the end of the summer. PECO announced Monday that the mill, hatchery and processing plant should be completed within 16-18 months.

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