Tyson Foods brings $300 million plant to Pittsylvania
In August 2021, Tyson Foods Inc., one of the world’s largest food companies, announced it will invest $300 million to establish a 325,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Pittsylvania County, creating 376 full-time jobs.
Just two months later, Tyson broke ground on the project at Cane Creek Centre, an industrial park just outside Danville that’s jointly owned by the city and Pittsylvania.
“This project represents the largest investment made by a single manufacturer within our community in over 30 years,” says Corrie Bobe, Danville’s economic development director.
Construction crews began work on the plant in December 2021, with completion scheduled in early 2023.
“This project is exciting,” says Linda Green, executive director of the Southern Virginia Regional Alliance. “Tyson is a well-known name. It’s been in Virginia for decades.”
Tyson has had a footprint in Virginia for more than 50 years and employs more than 2,000 people across the state in its hatchery, grain and processing operations in Glen Allen and on the Eastern Shore.
The new facility will be one of the company’s “most automated facilities,” Green adds. “They have increased the use of robotics and automation because of our workforce.”
The process to bring Tyson in lasted up to nine months, which is not “very long in the economic development world,” says Matt Rowe, economic development director for Pittsylvania County. “We were competing against a pretty large geographic area.”
The key driver in Tyson’s decision to locate to Southern Virginia was the region’s investment in a robust workforce training program that includes training in skills such as mechatronics and robotics.
“In fact, the company adjusted its model for this facility, adding more robotics and automation, based on the technical skills developed within our training programs,” Bobe says.
The company also secured grants from the state, including $3 million from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund and $3 million more from the Virginia Investment Performance Grant for creating jobs. The state’s Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission also approved $1.5 million for the facility, plus other incentives from the Virginia Enterprise Zone Program and the Major Business Facility Job Tax Credit.
Danville Community College and Pittsylvania Career and Technology Center are partnering with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership’s Talent Accelerator Program to provide workforce training, a real plus for the region, Rowe adds.
“Tyson viewed us as a community, but one where they could put their dream plant with all the automation and new technology they wanted. We are training people in that so they could implement new technology,” he says.
The facility will be used primarily for the production of fully cooked Tyson-branded foods, including chicken nuggets and items from its Any’tizer Snacks line.
The company plans to buy 60 million pounds of Virginia-grown chicken during the next three years, and it will complement other companies in the rapidly growing food products sector in Danville and Pittsylvania.
The Tyson facility will be directly across from the Aerofarms indoor vertical grow facility, which will produce leafy greens, and slightly more than a mile from Litehouse Inc., producer of salad dressings, herbs and cheeses, and Buitoni Foods, a maker of refrigerated pasta and sauces.
“For me, Tyson’s commitment to the communities they are in is important. Because of the company’s commitment to its employees, it felt like it was a good fit for the kind of company you want to bring into the community,” Green says. “Because they use Virginia products in their own products, it will be a wonderful tie between agriculture and manufacturing.”
“We’ve had operations in Glen Allen and Temperanceville for decades and look forward to growing our relationships with our newest investment in the commonwealth of Virginia,” David Bray, Tyson’s group president of poultry, said in a statement.
“We are building this state-of-the-art facility to help us meet growing demand for our fully-cooked products from customers and consumers. We started as a small family business selling chicken, and today we work hard to give the community a great place to come to work and provide for their own families.”