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Ft. Smith Southwest Times Record

Tyson Foods to close Van Buren plant

By Robert Medley, Fort Smith Times Record,

2023-03-14
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Tyson Foods, based in Springdale, has announced plans to close the chicken processing plant in Van Buren as well as another one in Virginia on the same day in May.

About 970 jobs will be lost in Van Buren.

Derek Burleson, Tyson spokesman, explained the reason behind the plant closing.

"After careful consideration, we’ve made the difficult decision to close our Van Buren, Arkansas plant effective May 12, 2023, and shift demand to other Tyson Foods facilities," Burleson said in a prepared statement.

"While the decision was not easy, it reflects our broader strategy to strengthen our poultry business by optimizing operations and utilizing full available capacity at each plant," Burleson said.

Tyson also announced plans to close a Glen Allen, Virginia chicken processing plant May 12, eliminating 692 jobs there as well as 969 employees in Van Buren.

Julie Murray, Van Buren, Arkansas Chamber of Commerce President and CEO, said Tyson will be missed.

"Tyson is a great corporate citizen, community partner and Arkansas company. We are sad to see them go but understand they need to do what is best for their business," Murray said.

Murray said a career fair has been planned for April 26 to help those affected by the shutdown.

"We have a career fair planned on April 26th for our friends and neighbors at Tyson to help them make the transition to their new career," Murray said.

Burleson said Tyson officials will work with state and local agencies to provide resources for those who lose their jobs and may not have a place to go.

"As always, our team members remain our top priority. We are working directly with impacted team members to help ensure they have the option to apply for open positions and relocation assistance where applicable to other Tyson Foods facilities. We are also closely coordinating with state and local agencies and officials to provide resources and assistance for those who choose to remain in Van Buren," Burleson said.

Tyson officials reported operating inefficiencies were partly to blame for its low profit in its fiscal first quarter. The company said its operating income dropped 68% to $467 million in that period.

Murray said there are jobs available in the Arkansas River Valley for those Tyson lets go.

"We have numerous wonderful companies in the area that can offer new opportunities for these talented employees," Murray said.

The Van Buren career fair will be at the Crawford County Adult Education Center in Van Buren with the Van Buren Chamber, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday, April 26.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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