Consumer Foods Cluster Surges with Arrivals of Butterball and Sanderson Farms

Two national names in poultry are making North Carolina’s Southeast the backdrop for major production operations. In February, Butterball unveiled plans to hire 367 people at the 200,000-square-foot plant in Hoke County once occupied by House of Raeford. The company will invest $66.75 million there. The following month, Sanderson Farms launched plans to construct a poultry processing facility and hatchery in St. Paul’s that will employ 1,100 workers.   

“It will have a definite economic impact – not just for our county but regionally,” says Greg Cummings, director for Robeson County Office of Economic Development. Sanderson’s $26 million annual payroll alone will ripple $130 million through the region’s economy, Cummings says. Robeson County and the Town of St. Paul’s will see a combined $1.4 million in new annual tax revenues from the facility, while contract poultry growers will see $39 million in annual new business.

“The Southeastern Partnership played a critical role in helping us land this project,” Cummings says. At the county’s request, the Partnership provided a supplier assessment and workforce analysis. “Anytime you’re dealing with 1,100 jobs, you want to make sure you’ve got the workforce,’ he says. Cummings also relied on assistance from the Southeast in handling proposals for grant funds that will support Sanderson’s new facility.

Butterball’s selection of Hoke County picks up where House of Raeford left off. House of Raeford announced plans to exit its longtime Hoke County plant in July 2013. “House of Raeford was a great corporate partner for many years, and we wish them well going forward,” says Don Porter, executive director of Raeford/Hoke County Economic Development. “We’re happy about the new relationship we’ve established with Butterball.”

Butterball started operating in Raeford in late April. By June its workforce there exceeded 100, though the company plans ultimately to employ 367. The Southeastern Partnership generated the lead and assembled leadership from key organizations. “The Southeast’s role was very pivotal in getting all the key players to the table,” Porter says. Among those partnering on the project are the N.C. Department of Commerce, Sandhills Community College and the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina.