Sedgwick County Withdraws Bid for Tyson Foods Plant; Wishes Other Communities Competing the Best

By Toby Nosker
KNCK News Director

In an official statement Thursday, December 7th, the Greater Wichita Partnership announced that Sedgwick County will no longer compete for a planned Tyson Foods, Inc. multi-million dollar chicken processing plant.

Sedgwick County Commissioner Michael O'Donnell is quoted as saying, "The Partnership has done excellent work gathering information and analyzing this potential project. However, the marketplace for new jobs especially at this level is very competitive and no community has unlimited resources. That means every community has to make decisions on when and where in the marketplace to compete. Sedgwick County has communicated to our state partners that this is one of those times when we need to focus our energy and our resources on other economic development opportunities."

On Wednesday, December 6th, Spirit AeroSystems announced a major expansion of its Wichita operations, including 1,000 new jobs and $1 billion in capital investment.

"We wish Tyson, the State of Kansas and especially all other communities who compete for this project the best," O'Donnell's statement continued. "Tyson Foods already has many jobs and sites throughout Kansas and those communities greatly value the company's investment and commitment. We believe this will be another one of those opportunities for a Kansas county."

As KNCK News first reported in October, Cloud County, Sedgwick County and Montgomery County were chosen by Tyson Foods as finalists for a $320 million Tyson Foods plant, which will supply retail customers throughout the country with tray-packed fresh chicken, is expected to employ 1,500-1,700 workers, and will have the capacity to process 1.25 million chickens per week.

"I think we will offer incentives to Tyson," CloudCorp Executive Director Ashley Hutchinson told KNCK News Thursday. "I don't know exactly what those look like quite yet. And I do want to stress to folks, I understand that you want to know exactly what we're going to be offering, it's just we have to remain competitive. In order to do that, we're going to negotiate privately. We'll keep the city informed of what we're doing, but of course, ultimately, it's going to come down to a vote by the city commission. So we'll work towards that point."

Concordia Mayor Chuck Lambertz told KNCK News this week he's eager for the City of Concordia to have an opportunity to partner with the large multinational corporation on a new state-of-the-art, fully-integrated poultry complex, should they choose to locate a facility at a proposed site near Concordia.

"We recognize how important, how impactful an opportunity like this would be for Concordia. And the opportunity to have a discussion with Tyson, trying to promote our community as being one of the best opportunities for them to locate this facility, is a tremendous opportunity for us," Mayor Lambertz told KNCK News this week.

During the Monday, December 4th edition of KNCK's "Talk of the Town," Lambertz described the Tyson Foods project as significant.

"The multipliers that are involved with bringing an industry of this size, or even of a fraction of this size, is so significant," Lambertz said on the show. "It really gives us an opportunity to stabilize population, have a huge influx in our economy. There have been some concerns expressed by certain members, but I think, when you put everything on the table, the good far outweighs the challenges. And the challenges are things that can be addressed. The challenges are things that we can have discussions about."

"When you put everything out there, it makes so much sense for us to be moving forward on this," Mayor Lambertz added.

CloudCorp announced this fall that they've identified 500-acres of land for the Tyson Foods complex. The land, located south and east of the Cloud County Fairgrounds in Concordia, was planned 11-years ago to be the home of Everton Energy LLC's proposed $170 million ethanol plant that never materialized.