WEST POINT – One of the nation’s largest poultry producers – and one of Mississippi’s largest employers – is adding another 300 jobs.

Peco Foods, the eighth-largest poultry producer in the state, is investing $40 million to convert a former cold-storage warehouse in West Point to provide freezer, cooler and storage space. The 300 jobs will be filled over the next four years.

Pay is $15 to $17 an hour, plus benefits.

Joe Max Higgins, CEO of the Golden Triangle Development LINK, the economic development group for the area, said the project took five years of hard work and negotiation for everything to come together.

“We have this big freezer and rail access, but it was hard to find a tenant,” he said. “Most of the commercial companies we talked to said if it was closer to Memphis, Birmingham or Jackson it would be better. We’re almost too far to serve as a distribution point for those metro areas. TVA said for us to get somebody here, we have to get somebody who can manufacture and use it, and that’s what Peco does. It took us five years to find somebody to manufacture and freeze.”

The 185,000 square-foot warehouse in West Point was formerly occupied by AmeriCold and is located on 37 acres. The facility, which has been idle for more than a decade, was used by Bryan Foods. Peco will be adding another 100,000 square feet, Higgins said.

Headquartered in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, privately held Peco Foods has more than 6,000 total employees and employs more than 3,600 in Mississippi. The company has processing plants, feed mills and hatcheries in Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas.

“We’ve been proud citizens of the Magnolia State for many years, and we’re pleased to continue the positive momentum here in Clay County,” said Mark Hickman, Peco’s president and CEO said. “Peco Foods is committed to the capital investment and the job creation to make this project successful in every way possible.”

The Mississippi Development Authority is providing $2.5 million for wastewater and infrastructure upgrades. Mississippi Works is providing $500,000 for workforce training. The city of West Point is providing a water and sewer rate reduction to Peco Foods.

“The addition of the West Point facility to Peco Foods’ portfolio and the creation of so many new jobs for the people of the Golden Triangle demonstrate how existing companies in our state benefit from our productive workforce and prime location in the fastest growing region of the U.S.,” Gov. Phil Bryant said.

Peco Foods is a supplier to national restaurant chains, regional food service distributors, retail grocers and international clients. It processes more than 24 million pounds of poultry a week.

dennis.seid@journalinc.com Twitter: @dennisseid

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