FREMONT, Neb. (AP) — Signs that said "We (heart symbol) Costco" were front and center during a Dodge County news conference held on a farm to discuss a proposed chicken plant that's drawn some local opposition.
At the farm near Hooper on Sunday, Costco executive Jeff Lyons delivered a message to area farmers: "With our volume and your volume, we should be successful together."
Costco is working with a Georgia company, Lincoln Premium Poultry, to develop a plant and grower network around Fremont that would supply a third of the giant retailer's fresh chicken.
Supporters say the plant would create 1,100 new jobs and provide other financial benefits to the community.
"Costco has an impeccable reputation," Fremont Mayor Scott Getzschman said. "We couldn't ask for a better corporate citizen to join our town."
But a sign reading "Coming soon, Bird Flu" inside Dodge County clearly indicates that not everyone is happy about the potential poultry processing plant.
"One of the reasons is to come here and answer questions that some people might have that we might be able to answer for them to alleviate the fears they might have that this plant is going to cause problems for the community," Lyons said.
The meeting, however, was an invite-only affair on private property. Costco representatives said that there weren't going to be any public meetings for residents to voice concerns while the company's leaders were in town.
Opponents have raised several issues, including the plant's potential impact on schools and housing. They also say the local roads aren't built for hundreds of trucks to travel on every day.
Scott Wagner, who hosted the event on his farm, said those aren't bad problems to have.
"What a great problem we have to be able to try to find more houses and more people to come into our area," Wagner said.
The exact location of the potential plant hasn't been set, but Costco officials say they hope it will be built in eastern Nebraska in a little more than two years.