BETHEL TWP., Pa. - Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett was among the dozens on Wednesday morning who gathered in Lebanon County to celebrate the construction of a new, state-of-the-art chicken plant.
The groundbreaking ceremony at 2929 Route 22 in Bethel Township, near Fredericksburg, is where crews are building the 160,000-square-foot Bell & Evans facility.
"You are a model. You are a part of the community. You are growing jobs for the people of this community and nearby communities," said Corbett, of Bell & Evans, a family-operated company specializing in organic poultry.
The new plant will be its second in the region. At the ceremony, company executives said the facility will create approximately 350 new jobs upon its completion next summer.
"We already have back-up employees hired and as the months get closer to start up, we're going to continue to do that," said Bell & Evans President Scott Sechler, a native and resident of Berks County.
"This is really the epitome of what private enterprise can bring to a community," said Pennsylvania Senator Mike Folmer, R-Dauphin/Lebanon/York counties.
Sechler told 69 News that the project, dubbed "Esther's" after a nearby family-run restaurant, will be followed by another in upcoming years. That expansion, set to take place at the former Keystone Protein plant down the road, is expected to add up to 1,500 jobs.
Sechler said the undertaking will help accommodate the company's rapid business growth across the country. Sechler said Bell & Evans currently supplies produce to Whole Foods, Wegman's, Chipotle, and mom-and-pop shops in every state.
"We're going to be producing special products for special people, for markets all over the United States," he said.
The expansion comes right on the heels of a competitor's closure. In March, Perdue Farms shut down its natural chicken plan in the nearby Fredericksburg area, leaving about 650 people jobless.
Sechler said he has already hired some of those workers and hopes to hire more.
"If they fit into the Bell and Evans quality of people that would enhance our team, we would hire 'em," said Sechler.
As it is currently, the company employs about 1,200 people, making it the third highest employer in Lebanon County. Yet according to Sechler, about half of his current employees are from Berks County, mainly Reading.Ground broken on chicken plant; 350 jobs to be created
Four police departments in our area are now investigating the same type of crime.Read More »
- More threats against Jewish Community Centers across the nation
- National Weather Service assessing Pennsylvania storm damage
- PSP: Mom used girl's breath to start car with DUI device
- Pennsylvania's 2018 US Senate race gets going with GOP entry
- Pink slips may await some Pennsylvania public universities
- Judge: Man charged in deadly stabbing will remain jailed
- Allentown hit-and-run victim dies week after incident
- Updated Nearly record warmth this afternoon and tomorrow with a few showers
- It's Fastnacht Day in Pennsylvania
- Updated Road blocks: Stopping drug trafficking in Reading
- Updated UGI customers to see slight increase in gas bill
- Updated Police arrest Hunterdon man on assault charges
- Allentown police arrest unwelcome guest outside apartment building
- Man allegedly tries to head-butt arresting officers, damages patrol car
- Man tells police he stole mom's money as she slept
- Allentown man charged in connection with robbery and shooting