Pilgrim’s Pride Announces Plan to build Plant in Franklin County

By MJ Kneiser, WLHR

Poultry producer Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation said today they plan to build a $70-million rendering plant in Carnesville.

Company officials say plans are to build the plant on a sight off Exit 164 along I-85.

The plant will be used primarily for the production of pet food ingredients by processing chicken byproducts.

In a press release, Company officials say that by processing chicken byproducts instead of dumping them in a landfill, Pilgrim’s is helping protect Georgia’s environment.

“Pilgrim’s is pleased to announce this significant investment in Franklin County, which will grow our company’s already substantial footprint in Georgia,” said Mark Glover, head of Pilgrim’s protein conversion division. “Following all necessary reviews and approvals from Franklin County and state officials, the plant built here will be truly state-of-the-art, ensuring that jobs and positive economic development are created in a way that safeguards and promotes the sustainable use of natural resources.”

Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation is an American-based food company that processes, prepares, packages and delivers fresh, frozen, and value-added food products for customers in more than 100 countries.

Plans announced today call for the Company to invest $70 million to build a state-of-the-art pet food ingredient plant in Franklin County.

The new plant will create 90 permanent, good-paying jobs in Franklin County, as well as 100 construction and trades jobs during development of the facility, according to the press release.

Pilgrim’s estimates that the plant, upon completion, will have a $65 million annual economic impact on the region through direct and indirect spending. The project will generate more than $1 million annually in local tax revenue, helping to fund county services and local schools.

Lee Moore is Chairman of Franklin County Industrial Building Authority.  Moore said the Industrial Building Authority has been working to bring Pilgrim’s Pride to Franklin County for just over a year.

During that time, Moore and other IBA members toured Pilgrim’s Pride plants in Iowa and South Carolina.

Recalling the issues with the Georgia Renewable Power plants, Moore said unlike those two plants in Franklin and Madison counties, the Pilgrim facilities had no outside odor and no noise.

“In the thirteen months Franklin County Industrial Development Authority has been in discussions with Pilgrim’s, I have visited multiple sites that are home to pet food ingredient plants built with the most advanced available technology. Those site visits, coupled with careful examination of the technology that this plant will be built with, give me great confidence that Pilgrim’s investment in Franklin County will not only create significant positive economic impact, but will also promote sustainability and protect our quality of life,” said Moore.

The Iowa plant Moore said was also very quiet both inside and outside.  Moore also pointed out that were was no factory smoke going into the air.  And he said the Pilgrim’s facility they toured in South Carolina was the same.

Moore said he believes the proposed Pilgrim’s plant would be a good fit for Franklin County.

Other state and local officials have also come out in favor of the rendering plant.

“I am excited about this investment by Pilgrim’s Pride as it will provide an opportunity for folks who are raised in Franklin County to continue to live and work in this community,” said State Senator Bo Hatchett, District 50. “The proposed project will not only bring millions in economic activity to Franklin County annually, but it will also utilize state-of-the-art technology to promote sustainability.”

“It’s great news for Franklin County to see this type of investment that will provide quality high-paying jobs in the area. The infrastructure needed to accommodate this project will make us more attractive to future economic development opportunities,” said State Representative Alan Powell, District 32.

“Franklin County is a wonderful place to live, work, and raise a family. I am excited about this announcement, which will provide an opportunity for our local residents to obtain quality jobs right in our community,” said John Wilkinson, President of North Georgia Technical College and a former Georgia State Senator. “North Georgia Technical College stands ready to assist with any training needed to meet the workforce needs of this facility.”

“Pilgrim’s significant investments in Georgia represent the company’s strong, ongoing commitment to our state, and drive the creation of jobs and farming opportunities that are key to a thriving agriculture sector here in the nation’s leading broiler producing state,” said Mike Giles, President of the Georgia Poultry Federation.

Word of the proposed rendering plant already hit the streets before today’s official announcement and people who have heard about it are already asking questions.

At this week’s Franklin County Board of Commission meeting, a citizen asked during the Public Comment section if what they had heard about the plant being built in Franklin County was true.

County Commission chair Jason Macomson said the first step before approval would first be to have the project come before the Planning and Zoning Board.

In a statement to WLHR News Wednesday, Macomson said, “The Board of Commissioners is willing to listen to and consider the proposal from Pilgrim’s, and we will listen to and weigh any public concerns before we make any final decisions. We are determined to fully research and perform our due diligence in order to be able to decide if this project is really something we want for Franklin County and if this project will be good for Franklin County. As part of our due diligence, should the project be approved, we will first develop an extensive and thorough list of written and required conditions and assurances which would be attached to any approval. Industrial development is important to the county because it expands our tax base and injects money into the local economy in the form of jobs and spending. But it is also important that we have learned from our experiences with GRP. Those lessons have been at the forefront of every discussion about this project and they have informed the development of this and any future industrial development projects.”

According to the Franklin County IBA, there currently is no contractual agreement between Pilgrim’s and Franklin County.

The land, which is under contract, is owned by a private party.

IBA officials say Pilgrim’s is engaging in all due diligence to obtain the required permits for the facility but has not requested a tax abatement.

“Pilgrim’s is an important anchor tenant in Georgia’s poultry and overall agribusiness industry,” said Gary W. Black, Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture. “The proposed investment demonstrates a long-term commitment to the community and state. I commend Pilgrim’s leadership team and all who have helped get this project across the finish line.”

“Pilgrim’s is a valued and long-time partner to our state and Georgia’s poultry and agriculture industries, providing jobs and opportunities for Georgians,” said Pat Wilson, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development. “As Georgia’s already significant food processing footprint also continues to grow, Pilgrim’s consistent decisions to choose Georgia for future investments is a testament to the workforce and numerous other benefits businesses find here.”

Pilgrim’s already has a significant presence in Georgia, employing more than 8,000 people and paying local growers more than $152 million each year to support its facilities in the state.

According to their press release, Pilgrim’s Pride has an annual payroll in Georgia of more than $440 million and contributed nearly $270 million in capital investments over the last five years.

More information on the proposed Pilgrim’s Pride plant can be found online at the Franklin County Industrial Building Authority Website at www.ThinkFranklin.com.