(KSLA) — A longtime poultry operation that for generations has been a major employer in north-central Louisiana is getting another multimillion-dollar shot in the arm.
A new feed mill and upgrades to a hatchery and chicken-processing plant will create more than 100 jobs in Bienville and Lincoln parishes.
The $46.6 million investment by House of Raeford Farms also will lead to the creation of 320 spinoff jobs, officials estimate.
Company CEO Bob Johnson and Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards announced the projects Tuesday.
House of Raeford Farms plans to build a $40.9 million feed mill in Simsboro. It will replace the Rose Hill, N.C.-based company’s feed mill in Choudrant.
The new mill will be capable of producing 12,500 tons of chicken feed a week, double the output of the Choudrant mill.
“The village of Simsboro is delighted that House of Raeford is building a feed mill in our community,” Simsboro Mayor Sybil Foster says in a statement announcing the projects. “It means a great deal to our economy, and we look forward to a long relationship with the company.”
House of Raeford Farms, the largest employer in Bienville Parish and one of the nation’s 10 largest chicken producers, also will spend at least $5.7 million upgrading its chicken-processing plant in Arcadia and its hatchery in Gibsland.
“House of Raeford is committed to our operations in Louisiana as evidenced by these major capital expenditures and planned employment increases,” Johnson said.
Construction of the feed mill is expected to take 18 months to two years.
The company estimates the improvements to the Arcadia processing plant and Gibsland hatchery will be finished sooner.
The Simsboro feed mill will create 13 jobs at an average salary of $41,385 a year, plus benefits, and will retain 36 jobs from the Choudrant mill.
The hatchery and processing plant upgrades will create 105 jobs while retaining 924 jobs.
Louisiana Economic Development estimates the mill project indirectly will create 35 jobs and the upgrades will mean 284 indirect jobs.
House of Raeford Farms’ expansions also will enable the company to contract with 86 more chicken houses in the region.
That will generate an additional $28 million in construction-related spending in the region, officials estimate.
“Food processing is big business for many of our North Louisiana communities," Edwards said. "House of Raeford already is one of the largest employers in the area, so its decision to expand its operations is welcome news indeed.”
The company produces ready-to-cook boneless skinless breasts, wings, tenders and boneless thighs and cooked rotisserie chickens and mini-corn dogs.
It distributes its products to grocery stores, food service companies, schools, further processing companies and export channels.
“We are thrilled to have such a great investment in Lincoln Parish,” Lincoln Police Jury President Randy Roberson said. “We work very hard to provide a great place to live and work, and the House of Raeford expansion is the latest example of how our efforts are paying off.”
As part of the deal, LED is providing House of Raeford Farms an incentive package that includes a $500,000 performance-based Economic Development Award Program grant to help offset the cost of improving infrastructure. The company also is expected to take advantage of Louisiana’s Enterprise Zone and Industrial Tax Exemption programs.
“North Louisiana Economic Partnership has been working with House of Raeford for several years to build a strong business case for investing capital and creating new jobs in North Louisiana,” NLEP President Scott Martinez said. “House of Raeford is a longtime, stable employer in the region. And we are excited about their multi-location expansion and the company’s commitment to growing in North Louisiana.”
Decades ago, House of Raeford Farms took over operations once owned by ConAgra.
In addition to its operations in Louisiana, House of Raeford Farms has facilities in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.
Its Louisiana complex is the first of House of Raeford Farms location to offer “No Antibiotics Ever” chicken products to its customers.