FORT SMITH, Ark. (AP) — A Fort Smith-based poultry company plans to hire 182 people as part of a $7 million expansion of its processing facilities.
OK Industries wants to hire 110 employees in Fort Smith and another 72 in Heavener, Okla., officials said Friday. Most of those positions will be in the company's chicken deboning operation to increase capacity and improve quality, company spokeswoman Donna Miller said.
Priority in hiring will be given to those who were laid off last year.
"That's always been our practice," Miller told the Southwest Times Record.
OK Industries employs more than 2,800 people at administrative offices, processing plants, hatcheries and feed mills in Arkansas and Oklahoma. It was acquired by Industrias Bachoco, which is owned and controlled by the Bours family of Sonora, Mexico.
The announcement was a boost for the Fort Smith area, which has endured the loss of a Whirlpool Corp. plant and the news that Mitsubishi Power System of America has indefinitely suspended the creation of about 300 assembly jobs because of problems in the wind turbine industry.
"You can't be too choosy when adding jobs at this time of the economic recovery," Kermit Kuehn, director of the Center for Business Research and Economic Development at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith, told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. "We're thrilled they're adding jobs, since there will be certain 'flow-through' effects for local retailers."
The new jobs will pay between $8.60 and $12.50 an hour, Miller said.
Renovations at both locations will be completed by the beginning of June.