Simmons Foods announced on October 16 that operations are beginning to ramp up as scheduled at its new $300 million Benton County poultry production facility.

Simmons’ Benton County production facility is a 315,000 square-foot facility centrally located on an 870-acre site along Arkansas Highway 59 between Gentry and Decatur.  The project has logged over one million safe work hours to date. Production began on a small scale at the facility the week of September 30 and will steadily increase to reach the first phase of full production in January 2020.

“These last few weeks have been a critical phase in preparing for the startup of operations here at Benton County.  There has been a tremendous amount of work to get to this point, but there is still work to do,” said David Jackson, chief operating officer at Simmons Foods.

“We’re in the midst of a staged transition and a gradual ramp-up of production in a brand new environment.  Every piece of equipment and each process is being assessed to ensure the highest safety and product quality.  This is important work and we’re pleased to be on track with the project timeline,” Jackson said.

Approximately 900 team members are transitioning to the new facility from Simmons processing plant in Decatur.  The company expects to increase staffing at the plant to 1,200 team members by January 2020, with the potential to reach up to 2,300 team members in 2022.

“One of the things we’re most proud of with this facility is the work environment it provides for our team members,” Jackson added.  “The design, layout and finishes are the results of an intentional effort to make this place where people are proud to come to work.  This is a world-class facility.”

To streamline the process for building its team in the region, Simmons opened a hiring center last year in Siloam Springs.  Prospective team members could apply, interview, and, in some cases, complete the hiring process in a single visit.

Exterior finish work, tree planting, and landscaping at the Benton County facility will continue over the next few months.  An opening celebration event is in the planning for spring 2020.