December 29, 2005 - Laurel-based Sanderson Farms will spend $24 million to expand its poultry processing capacity in Collins.
The expansion will include a new feed mill and the construction of 168 new chicken houses within a 30-mile radius of Collins.
The expansion will add 40 jobs to the 1,700 workers now on the company's Collins division payroll.
Bob Billingsley, director of development and engineering for Sanderson Farms, said it is hard to determine the number of new jobs created with the new chicken houses since growers typically have six houses they manage themselves.
"We are adding 40 workers, including truck drivers, at a new $13.5 million feed mill," he said.
Other work will be at the processing plant and a hatchery, he said.
Billingsley said the company will add producers to support the increase in plant capacity. He said existing producers who contract with Sanderson Farms also could expand.
"We always maintain a list of existing growers who want to add to their broiler houses as well as people who are interested in becoming growers," Billingsley said.
One of the new growers, Bob Shoemake of Collins, said he waited five years for the opportunity. He will spend about $1 million to build and equip four houses. The houses will hold 100,000 chickens.
"Chicken is still the cheapest meat you can buy," Shoemake said. "Plus there's a growing overseas market for chicken, and I'm glad that the Collins operation is expanding."
Billingsley said Sanderson will add a rail spur to the feed mill site. The company needs 100 rail cars of corn delivered weekly to produce 8,200 tons of feed a week, he said.
The Collins plant will process more than 1.05 million broilers a week, an increase of 150,000, after the expansion. Cost to expand the plant is $8 million.
The company will spend $2.5 million at its hatchery, increasing capacity by more than 1.2 million chicks weekly, Billingsley said.
Collins Mayor V.O. Smith said the expansion solidifies the company's commitment in the area.