"This is the final step of a goal we started 20 years ago," said Gary George, chief executive officer of George's, Inc. "We're happy to be here, and we're happy to be expanding in Missouri."
According to George, the company will be spending approximately $16 million to build the new feed mill. This amount includes excavation work at the site, which will also accommodate construction of a 7,600-foot spur by the Arkansas-Missouri Railroad. The spur is needed so that the plant can be serviced by a full, 110-car train.
Younglove Construction, LLC, based in Sioux City, Iowa, will serve as general contractor for the feed mill project. Start-up capacity at the new mill will be 10,500 tons per week. The mill will be built to store more than 700,000 bushels of grain.
Speaking at last Wednesday's groundbreaking ceremony, George shared memories of the late Rolland Meador and the late Joe Ellis. He described both men as being instrumental in getting George's to open a processing plant in Butterfield.
"Mayor Meador was a champion for us, and if he was dead set on something, he could get it done," George said. "Joe Ellis was one of the smartest country lawyers I ever knew. Joe took any hit that needed to be hit and kept us going."
George also commented on the assistance provided by Barry County Presiding Commissioner Cherry Warren and Don Cupps, Cassville attorney.
"When you all work together, good things happen," George said.
The George's-Barry County connection began in 1989 when the company opened a state-of-the-art poultry processing plant in Butterfield. A year later, the company built a truck shop and live haul facility, and in 2002, George's completed a hatchery, which is one of the world's largest at full capacity.
When the feed mill is completed in May of 2007, George's will have fully integrated its operations in southwest Missouri. These facilities are supported by more than 150 contract growers in Barry County.
Currently, George's employs 1,000 people with an annual payroll exceeding $22 million. When the feed mill is completed, it will employ an additional 27 people.
"We appreciate the relationship we've had with George's," said Warren, who also spoke at the groundbreaking ceremony. "The people at George's are community oriented. They've done a good job of taking care of the wastewater . . . and the appearance of the property is excellent. We're proud to have George's in our county."
George's newest project will be bolstered by highway improvements planned at the intersection of Highways 37 and W, near where the company's southwest Missouri complex is located.
A $266,500 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) from the Missouri Department of Economic Development will finance construction of a southbound deceleration lane, a northbound left turn lane off of Highway 37 and a driveway entrance across from the existing plant entrance to serve the new mill.
"It will be safer for the trucks to pull out and turn into the plant," said Craig Coberley, vice president of George's Arkansas-Missouri complex. "The drivers won't have to go out on Highway 37. They can go out on Highway W if they choose."
Road improvements are not expected to begin until after December, Coberley said.