Photographs by Gavin Lesnick
Jeana Williams, Van Buren County Emergency Management Coordinator, looks at examples of Global Food Group products set up at a news conference announcing the company will bring a facility to Clinton, creating 224 jobs.
Originally published February 20, 2013 at 09:44a.m., updated February 20, 2013 at 11:54a.m.
CLINTON A food processor and manufacturer will open a production facility in Clinton, creating more than 200 jobs, officials said Wednesday.
Pete Giovannini, development director of the Van Buren Economic Development Commission, said the 224 jobs at Global Food Group will be added within five years and would pay $12 an hour.
"For the last 5 years, Van Buren County has had no manufacturing jobs at all," he said before a formal announcement at the facility, a former computer-cord production space now owned by the county. "We should see an across-the-board tax revenue increase. It'll be a big shot in the arm for our community."
Global Food Group — which makes foods including frozen pizzas and appetizers, bagged vegetables and sandwiches — will locate in an existing facility at 245 Quality Drive, which is undergoing renovations.
The company will invest $4.7 million in the facility and the state will provide a $2.5 Community Development Block Grant as well as sales-tax refunds on some items and an income-tax credit.
Arkansas Economic Development Commission Director Grant Tennille, who stood in for a sick Gov. Mike Beebe at the announcement event at the facility, said he is "absolutely confident it is a good deal for the state."
"It is more than 200 jobs in an area that needs the jobs," he said. "It is a good, strong Arkansas company ... that is wanting to expand and reinvest here in Arkansas. Those are the kinds of announcements we like the best."
Tennille noted the jobs come to an area that has had a "rough go of it." Hundreds of jobs were lost in recent years when a chicken plant shut down and when a tornado destroyed a boat manufacturer. Unemployment last year in Van Buren County was above 9 percent, Tennille said.
"When we had the opportunity to bring a project here, it became a special focus for us," he said.
Giovannini said the plant closings and the tornado "demoralized the community," but the announcement Wednesday was a sign of a brighter future.
"What it is doing is creating a buzz for Van Buren County and Clinton in the statewide business and economic development community," he said. "And that will help us out immeasurably as we go on down the line."
Robbie Brown, Global Food Group’s president and chief executive officer, said the new facility will allow the Cabot-based company to expand its current brands and offer new categories and product lines. He said the company was attracted to Clinton because it has a "very good, experienced work force."
"It's great for both of us," he said. "Our company needs a good work force. They need a good company. We're glad to be here."
Beebe, who had been scheduled to attend the announcement before getting sick, applauded the company for opening in Clinton.
“Arkansas continues to maintain a strong roster of companies in the food manufacturing sector,” Beebe said in the statement, which noted that Global Food Group has enjoyed double-digit revenue growth each year since the company was founded in 2003. “An Arkansas-based company like Global Food Group recognizes that expanding close to home in Clinton helps build that momentum toward future success.”
Global Food Group is a subsidiary of Cabot-based Global Performance Group and its customers include Associated Grocers, Super Value, Harps, and Food Giant.
The Clinton facility is expected to be up and running by August.