Gov. John Bel Edwards and House of Raeford Farms CEO Bob Johnson announced the company will expand its chicken processing operations in Bienville Parish with upgrades to facilities in Arcadia and Gibsland. The company will invest at least $5.7 million in building modifications and new equipment at its hatchery in Gibsland and its processing plant in Arcadia.
The project will create 105 new direct jobs at an average annual salary of $24,000, plus benefits. House of Raeford will retain 924 existing jobs in the parish with this project. Louisiana Economic Development estimates the improvements will result in 284 new indirect jobs, for a total of 389 new jobs for Bienville Parish and the Northwest Region.
In nearby Lincoln Parish, House of Raeford will invest another $40.9 million in a new feed mill in Simsboro, replacing an older company mill in Choudrant. That project will create 13 new direct jobs and will retain 36 existing jobs from the Choudrant mill, and LED estimates the project will result in 36 indirect jobs, for a total of 49 new jobs for Lincoln Parish and the Northwest Region.
“We are happy to see House of Raeford Farms extend its commitment to Louisiana’s Northwest Region as it adds more than 100 jobs in Bienville Parish and invests almost $41 million in a new feed mill in Lincoln Parish,” Gov. Edwards said. “Food processing is big business for many of our North Louisiana communities. House of Raeford already is one of the largest employers in the area, so its decision to expand its operations is welcome news indeed.”
Based in North Carolina, House of Raeford Farms distributes chicken products to food service companies, retail grocery stores, schools, further-processing companies and export channels. Its product lines include ready-to-cook items, such as boneless skinless breasts, wings, tenders and boneless thighs, as well as fully-cooked products, such as rotisserie chicken and mini-corn dogs. House of Raeford-labeled products are sold in retail grocery stores, and company products also are packaged under private labels for customers.
“House of Raeford is committed to our operations in Louisiana as evidenced by these major capital expenditures and planned employment increases,” Johnson said. “In keeping with the growth objectives of our company, our Louisiana complex is also the first of our locations to offer ‘No Antibiotics Ever’ chicken products to our customers.”
Construction of the new feed mill in Simsboro will take 18 months to two years to complete, while improvements to the Gibsland hatchery and Arcadia processing plant will be finished earlier, the company estimates. The expansions will allow House of Raeford to contract for 86 new poultry houses in the region. Under poultry house contracts, a company supplies birds and feed, and farmers provide housing, utilities and labor to raise chickens for the company. Development of the new poultry houses will generate an additional $28 million in construction-related spending in the region.
“House of Raeford Farms has always been an integral part of our local economy, and we look forward to working with them to facilitate this exciting new operation,” said Secretary/Treasurer Rodney L. Warren of the Bienville Parish Police Jury.
To secure the Bienville Parish project, LED offered House of Raeford Farms a competitive incentive package that includes a performance-based grant of $1 million to be used for production improvements. The company also is expected to utilize Louisiana’s Enterprise Zone and Industrial Tax Exemption programs.
“We are excited about the economic impact this expansion will have on the Town of Arcadia,” Mayor O’Landis “Bubba” Millican said. “House of Raeford is the heartbeat of our small town. Excitement breeds excitement, and I’m excited yet grateful that the House of Raeford is willing to continue to invest in Arcadia, as well as Bienville Parish long-term. The creation of over 100 new jobs will help with the unemployment rate not only in Arcadia but also in the surrounding areas. We look forward to the continued partnership with House of Raeford.”
“House of Raeford’s investment and expansion in the Town of Gibsland is a game-changer for our community,” Gibsland Mayor Ray Ivory said. “We are very excited and look forward to working with the company for years to come.”
“North Louisiana Economic Partnership has been working with House of Raeford for several years to build a strong business case for investing capital and creating new jobs in North Louisiana,” NLEP President Scott Martinez said. “House of Raeford is a long-time, stable employer in the region, and we are excited about their multi-location expansion and the company’s commitment to growing in North Louisiana.”