RINGGOLD — The local and regional officials gathered at the groundbreaking of the Tyson Foods’ future manufacturing facility sounded as excited as a 3-year-old learning that chicken nuggets are on the lunch menu.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam was on hand Thursday at Cane Creek Centre in Ringgold to celebrate the $300 million, 325,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility, which is expected to be operational in early 2023.
“It is another beautiful day in Danville,” he said. “We’re back, and we hope we’re not wearing out our welcome with so many great announcements.”
Almost 400 jobs will be created at the facility, which will cook, season, flash-freeze, package and ship out foods including Any’tizer Snacks, chicken nuggets and other products. Average annual salaries for the positions will be around $40,000 to $45,000.
“This area is a model for Virginia and for the nation,” said Northam, referring the collaboration between Danville and Pittsylvania County that brought Tyson to the area.
He remarked that Tyson sets a national example on responding to COVID and keeping its workers safe, thanking Tyson for providing both food and employment.
“Tyson has a deep history in rural America, and they’ve set a national example on responding to COVID. Their employees are safer for it, and we’re thrilled to see the company put down roots in Southern Virginia,” said Northam. “The Danville-Pittsylvania County area has built a true economic development resurgence, and that continues to pay off with new jobs and investment from companies like Tyson.
“Tyson’s continued growth and investments are a testament to Virginia’s workforce and strong business environment, and we congratulate them on this new facility and look forward to many more years of success.
“This is an exciting day for Danville and Pittsylvania County, and I can’t be prouder,” he said. “Welcoming Tyson is a big, big deal.”
David Bray, group president of poultry for Tyson Foods, said that to say he was humbled at the event and welcome was an understatement.
“When we started this process, we felt we were home. And now I am absolutely certain we are home,” he said. “It is our goal to feed people and to keep team members safe. The products coming out of this facility will be both in the food service and the retail arena.”
He said the company has worked successfully in Virginia for decades and is investing in the facility near Danville because of the demand for “more high-quality Tyson brand chicken.” “We’re thankful for the invitation to become a part of the Danville and Pittsylvania County communities, the support from both state and local leaders, and the presence of such a strong workforce in the region,” he said.
Bettina Ring, Virginia secretary of agriculture and forestry, said the collaboration between the city and the county is “truly a model for the state.”
She noted that poultry is a thriving $13-billion industry in Virginia, accounting for 1,100 poultry farms and more than 7,000 jobs.
The Ringgold facility will not be a slaughterhouse. It’s a no-kill facility where raw product will be brought in, an earlier Register & Bee article reported.
Brian Ball, Virginia secretary of commerce and trade, said that the “highly anticipated project” will strengthen Virginia’s long partnership with Tyson, as well as provide and economic boost to the region.
Based in Springdale, Arkansas, Tyson has nearly 140,000 employees, including more than 2,000 across the state of Virginia in hatchery, grain and processing operations in Henrico County and in Temperanceville on the Eastern Shore. In addition to the job and capital investment commitments, Tyson Foods has also committed to purchase approximately 60 million pounds of Virginia-grown chicken over the next three years, according to a news release.
State Sen. Frank Ruff, 15th District, called the day “beautiful and wonderful” and likened the groundbreaking to planting a tomato seed and then one day harvesting a big, red tomato.
“We are trying to bring companies with great spirit, and Tyson is one of them,” state Delegate Danny Marshall, 14th District, said,
Other speakers included Joe Davis with the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors; Alonzo Jones, Danville mayor; Evan Feinman, executive director of the Virginia Tobacco Region Rebiatlization Commission; and Sherman Saunders, member of Danville City Council and chairman of Danville-Pittsylvania Regional Industrial Facility Authority.
“I am incredibly proud of the continued development that we are seeing at the Cane Creek Centre in Ringgold,” said Joe Davis, Dan River District supervisor. “To have Tyson Foods, a household name and food industry pillar, choose to make such a significant investment right here in our community is a testament to the quality business environment Pittsylvania County has developed.”
Davis said that Tyson’s investment is the largest capital investment in Pittsylvania County to date.
Feinman said the successes that the region has piled up is impressive.
“Three hundred and seventy-six families with a better livelihood will be putting presents under the Christmas tree,” he said. “And as a parent of a toddler, I am thrilled to be able to buy local chicken nuggets for my little man.”
Saunders remarked that the region is “proud to play a role in the company’s continued success.”
“Today’s groundbreaking marks a milestone moment, and I am excited to see what the future has in store for the company and the state-of-the-art facility that it will build here,” he said.
In the closing remarks, Jones said he felt like he was coming to the end of a church service and he needed some chicken because he was hungry.
He then listed the three things he had heard: excitement, commitment and partnership.
“We are all excited Tyson will here. We are thankful for their commitment, and we need to celebrate the partnerships in place,” he said.
Under the agreement, RIFA provided a land grant worth about $2.06 million and would apply for and disburse state grants and a state loan.
RIFA also will provide an industrial enhancement grant of up to $10.3 million in the form of tax rebates of 70% for 10 years on real estate taxes, machine and tool taxes, and business personal property taxes.
Under the draft agreement, Danville, Pittsylvania County and RIFA will provide incentives to Tyson Foods in exchange for the company meeting performance conditions within a four-year period.
The Virginia Economic Development Partnership and the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services worked with Pittsylvania County, the city of Danville, RIFA, the Southern Virginia Regional Alliance, and the General Assembly’s Major Employment and Investment Project Approval Commission to secure the project for the Commonwealth.
Northam approved a $3.04 million grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund and a $3 million performance-based grant from the Virginia Investment Performance Grant, an incentive that encourages continued capital investment by existing Virginia companies, to assist Danville-Pittsylvania County with the project.
Northam also approved a $500,000 grant from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund that supports projects sourcing Virginia-grown products.
The Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission approved $1.5 million from the Tobacco Region Opportunity Fund for the project.
Tyson is eligible to receive state benefits from the Major Business Facility Job Tax Credit for new, full-time jobs created, as well as benefits from the Virginia Enterprise Zone Program, administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development.
Support for Tyson Foods’ job creation will be provided through the Virginia Talent Accelerator Program, a workforce initiative created by the Virginia Economic Development Partnership in collaboration with the Virginia Community College System and other higher education partners.
Funding for the program comes from the Northam administration and the Virginia General Assembly. Launched in 2019, the program accelerates new facility start-ups through the direct delivery of recruitment and training services that are fully customized to each company. All program services are provided at no cost to qualified new and expanding companies as an incentive for job creation.