Tyson puts proposed Kansas plant on hold

by Joel Crews
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Tyson plant protestors
Protesters have been opposing the Tyson plant in Tonganoxie since the announcement on Sept.5.
 

SPRINGDALE, ARK. — One day after county commissioners in Leavenworth County, Kas., voted to rescind a resolution of intent to approve revenue bonds of $500 million to support the construction of a Tyson Foods, Inc. poultry complex, the company announced on Sept. 19 that it was putting the $320 million project on hold and is considering other locations.

In an open letter to the Leavenworth community, Doug Ramsey, Tyson’s group president of poultry, said the company was invited by leaders at the local and state level to build the complex there. On Sept. 5, the company announced its plans to build a hatchery, feed mill and processing plant just south of Tonganoxie, Kas., in Leavenworth County. The bond incentive was part of the decision-making process.

Doug Ramsey, Tyson Foods
Doug Ramsey, group president of poultry for Tyson

“In a show of support, the county commissioners unanimously approved a resolution to use industrial revenue bonds for the project,” Mr. Ramsey said in the letter. “We saw this shared investment, and the $150 million in annual economic impact it would have, as a win for the company and the people of Leavenworth County.”  

After the plans were announced, a grass roots campaign opposing the project was organized composed of residents concerned about the negative environmental and economic impact the facilities would have on the community. A coalition known as Citizens Against Project Sunset (CAPS) launched a web site (www.nototyson.com) and started a social media campaign opposing the project. Since Tyson announced its plans, the group has held protests and voiced its opposition at several rallies and during meetings with county commissioners.

 

In his letter, Mr. Ramsey clarified Tyson’s reputation as a positive corporate citizen and its history of bringing thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic benefits to Kansas at its six other facilities in the state. He also said the company didn’t answer questions and address concerns in a timely manner.

“Given the scope of our project, we knew there would be questions and recognized that you would have an important voice in the decision-making process,” Mr. Ramsey said in the letter. “That’s why we met with some of you after our initial announcement, planned more meetings and offered community leaders a chance to see our facilities first hand. Unfortunately, we’ve not been able to reach as many of you as quickly as we had hoped.

“We’d still like to get to know each other, however, after Monday’s reversal of support by the Leavenworth County commissioners, we will put our plans in your community on hold. We still have interest in Leavenworth County, but will prioritize the other locations in Kansas and other states that have expressed support.”
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