Tyson Foods officially broke ground on a cold Tuesday morning in Eagle Mountain. Huddled inside a tent from freezing temperatures, city officials and Tyson Foods representatives celebrated the historic occasion.
Tyson Foods first announced it would be coming to Utah and Eagle Mountain earlier this summer. Aaron Sanborn, the economic development director with Eagle Mountain, said the city has been very excited about the opening, and has been working “hand in hand” with Tyson Foods to plan the facility and infrastructure development.
According to Tyson Foods officials, the $300 million project will create 800 jobs, adding an additional 400 jobs in three years, having an estimated $1 billion of economic impact in the first decade. The facility will be completed at the end of the year 2020, set to begin operations in fall 2021.
Sanborn said another unexpected result Tyson Foods has brought to the community is increased interest from other businesses.
“Tyson is paving the way quite literally for other businesses to be able to move here,” Sanborn said. “Putting in roads, putting in water, sewer infrastructure, that’s going to help this area of the city develop and create jobs.”
Besides the economic development benefits, Sanborn said Tyson Foods has also made donations to the local high school and partnered with the city to provide food or financial assistance for events.
Tyson Foods was approved for a $12.3 million tax break in May.
“They’ve been a wonderful partner for us, even in the few months that they’ve been in the planning stage,” Sanborn said. “So we only expect that to continue as time goes by.”
Steve Stouffer, president of Tyson Fresh Meats, said being a good “corporate citizen” is part of the company’s mission.
“We are excited to join the Eagle Mountain city community, and in addition to bringing jobs to the area we look forward to being both a supportive community and business partner,” Stouffer said. “Our purpose, raising the world’s expectations for how much good food can do, motivates us to be engaged and positively contribute in our communities. We’re ready to get involved and be a part of what makes Eagle Mountain city a great place to live.”
Aside from donations already made, Nate Hodne, senior vice president of Tyson Foods’ Portioned Protein Innovations, said at the event that Tyson is committed to donating 144,000 meals to Community Action Services and Food Bank in Provo. But the most important engagement, he said, will come from individual team members.
“We want to make certain our people are engaged in the heart of the community,” Hodne said.
Tom Sharp, the complex manager of the future site, has already become embedded in the community, moving to Eagle Mountain from Texas with his wife and three children who now attend school in Alpine School District.
“Any chance that we have to be out in the community, we’re going to make the most of that,” Sharp said. He and his family participated in a Halloween festival just last weekend, he added. “Everybody’s been open, welcoming, the school district, the community as a whole and the city members that I’ve got a chance to meet. I couldn’t ask for more.”
While the Eagle Mountain facility is being constructed, Sharp said he’ll be working on other projects with Tyson, balanced with time spent at a temporary Eagle Mountain office.
The Tyson Foods groundbreaking is significant for the city, but it’s also a big deal for the company, as it’s the first “case ready operation” in the west.
“We have several facilities in the Midwest, but now to service consumers in the west, (Utah) gives us a great place to have a facility to get to the west coast in a day with products and service consumers out there,” Hodne said. “It’s the next step in us continuing to grow this business and go west.”
Hodne said Eagle Mountain in particular stood out as a good location because of its potential for growth. In answer to concerns from residents about environmental impact or quality of life impact, Hodne said the facility does not produce any kind of “odor,” and does not generate a lot of waste.
In order to lessen the facility’s impact, Hodne said part of the development over the next two years will include looking into water reclamation projects and energy efficiency.
“Other issues that are important we’re working to ... address them,” Hodne said.
Eagle Mountain is in a unique position of being a still relatively young city that can plan its development, and Sanborn said the city plans to develop all kinds of different areas so there is something for everyone.
“We can develop in ways that have larger areas for people who want more large open spaces, people who want more smaller community feelings, we have the capacity to meet all those different desires,” Sanborn said. “One of the things that we want to focus on is creating a community where you can live, work and play, and creating jobs is a part of that.”