Concordia City Commission Candidates All Express Support of Tyson Foods Poultry Project

By Toby Nosker
KNCK News Director

All four of the candidates seeking two positions up for election this fall on the Concordia City Commission have expressed their support this week to CloudCorp and other entities throughout the US Highway 81 Corridor that are competing for a planned multi-million dollar Tyson Foods poultry complex. CloudCorp has identified a site near Concordia that meets the demands of the facility, which is to include a hatchery, feed mill and chicken processing plant.

In early September, Tyson Foods Inc. and Kansas officials unveiled plans for a chicken facility outside Tonganoxie, a town about 15 miles northeast of Lawrence. But three weeks ago the company announced they have started to look at other locations in Kansas and other states after public outcry and a decision by local leaders to retreat from promised incentives. The Jackson County Commissioners announced late-last week they are no longer pursuing the construction of a Tyson Foods plant in the county.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Josh Roe, deputy secretary of the Kansas Department of Agriculture, has said 32 communities have expressed an interest or asked for information in the plant that is expected to employ around 1,600 people. Tyson says its project would generate annual economic impact to Kansas of $150 million.

In a recent survey at NCKToday.com, 68.1% of our respondents said the planned Tyson Foods Poultry Complex is the type of industry CloudCorp should compete for. And as KNCK News was the first to report last month, CloudCorp has received letters of support from Cloud County, Republic County Economic Development, the City of Concordia, USD 333 Concordia, Cloud County Community College, the Saline County Commissioners and others.

On Tuesday, November 7th, voters in the City of Concordia will elect two new Commissioners after Tim Parker and Lyle Pounds opted not to seek re-election. Those candidates -- Lisa Brewer, Gary Jeardoe, Jr., Mark Matthew and Keaton Snavely -- all told KNCK News this week they would back Tyson Foods locating a planned poultry complex in Concordia.

"I think Tyson could probably be the best thing that's ever happened to Concordia in quite a few years, honestly," Jeardoe, Jr. told KNCK. Gary previously ran for a City Commission seat in 2016.. "I have had the privilege to sit down with a couple of the CloudCorp board members and discuss what my concerns were. If we can build a good, working, lasting partnership with Tyson or whoever may come in, could be the most beneficial thing to Concordia."

Matthew, who is running for a Commissioner seat for the first-time, told KNCK News that he supports CloudCorp's proposal to the Kansas Department of Agriculture and Tyson Foods.

"Concordia needs industry. I don't think we have the luxury of turning away manufacturing businesses coming to Concordia or any businesses coming to Concordia," Matthew said this week. "The process of bringing that company in, what it's going to take from the educational and the hospital and the county and the city and what all is involved in the business deal, that's another thing to consider. Just to say, 'I don't think we need that,' without really knowing all the financial aspects and what all's involved, I think it's a little premature for people to be saying 'We don't want it.' Yes, I do support it."

First time candidate Snavely told KNCK News the Tyson Foods plant would be a big boost to Concordia.

"You're talking bringing a lot more revenue, a lot more people (to Concordia). I think there's a lot of things that need to be worked out, yet. There's a lot of details that, quite frankly, I don't think anybody knows yet that could be huge decision-making points on this. But myself, I am 100% for it," Snavely told us. "I think that once we get this ball rolling, everything else is going to fall in place. I think everything else will grow."

Brewer, who announced this month that she plans to seek a seat on the Concordia City Commission as a write-candidate, told KNCK News she'd like to sit down at the table with Tyson Foods.

"It's a longshot. But I do think that we have a lot of resources available already. (CloudCorp Executive Director Ashley Hutchinson) is doing great about making sure we're in the running," Brewer said. "I have been talking to people that are from towns that already have a Tyson cold pack plant in their town and I've heard great things."

She added that she'd like to visit a Tyson Foods plant to see what it looks like and feels like there.

Registration books for the 2017 November General Election will close at the end of regular business hours on Tuesday, October 17th.

2017 is the first year the state of Kansas transitions its city/school elections to November. General Elections for these positions were previously held in April.