BOAZ, Ala. (WHNT) - There's news of a large economic blow coming to Marshall County. Pilgrim's announced to employees Tuesday it will close its poultry processing plant in Boaz.
There had been talk of the plant closing for weeks, but employees officially received word Tuesday during meetings held through the different shifts. Approximately 1,100 people work at the plant in Boaz, according to information released by the company, and Pilgrim's is the largest employer in Marshall County.
Pilgrim's said the plant's closure is part of a company strategy to improve efficiencies and generate approximately $200 million in savings in 2014.
"Today's announcement reflects the strength of our balance sheet, our willingness to strategically invest in our business and our continued commitment to the pursuit of operational excellence," said Bill Lovette, President and CEO of Pilgrim's Pride Corporation. "Given our decision to consolidate operations, our intent is to offer retention incentives to encourage many of our Boaz team members to remain with the company in different capacities. We are confident these capital improvement projects will position the company, our stakeholders and our team members for success for many years to come."
Company officials told employees they expect the vast majority of people to be offered positions at Pilgrim's plants in Guntersville or Russellville. Those who go to Russellville will be given a moving allowance.
Pilgrim's also plans to add 100 jobs in Russellville and 100 jobs at the plant in Douglas, Georgia. There are additional upgrades, including:
-$10 million to upgrade the feed mill in Falkville, AL
-$25 million to expand the large bird deboning capacity and modernize utilities at Mt. Pleasant, TX
-$25 million to upgrade the feed mill and processing operations in Enterprise, AL
Boaz Mayor Tim Walker says he's upset by the announcement, because the city gave the plant tax incentives for things like utility improvements. Pilgrim's also plans to strip the plant, and Walker said this will make it harder for another company to locate inside.
Mayor Walker attended a meeting with plant employees Tuesday afternoon, as did State Senator Clay Scofield, whose district includes Boaz. Sen. Scofield is also one of the plant's poultry growers.
The Boaz plant is scheduled to close January 24.