Bulldozers have begun flattening out the 800 acres that will one day be home to a Tyson Foods meat packing facility, the first for the company west of the Rocky Mountains. The company is one of the largest food processors in the country and expects to employ 800 people when the plant opens in 2021, with entry level jobs starting at a minimum of $16/hour.
The plant, which Tyson officials said will be the largest of its kind in the western US, is the second development by a major corporation going up in the relatively small western Utah County city of Eagle Mountain, along with a Facebook data center.
Eagle Mountain’s mayor Tom Westmoreland said that while the city is one of the largest in the state geographically, it’s only about 20% developed and could use the infrastructure that major companies bring.
“This does mark change for us,” he said. “People living here are used to a very open [area], you know, you can see great views in every direction. But being a bedroom community, there are huge costs.”
The most significant costs, he said, are the lack of local jobs for residents and their corresponding lengthy commutes.
While some meat packing plants have struggled to find workers in the past, particularly with the industry’s heavy reliance on refugee labor, Nate Hodne, senior vice president of Tyson’s Portioned Protein Innovations division, said the company is not worried about finding enough workers in Utah.
“You go across the country right now and you know, unemployment is at an all time low,” Hodne said. “So it’s difficult for any manufacturer or any business to find employees. But we think that there’s a great workforce here that we can draw upon.”
Tyson officials call the plant a “case ready meat-cutting and packing operation” that will source beef and pork from Tyson slaughter locations before shipping pre-cut and marinated meats to retailers throughout the western US and abroad.
Hodne said that while overall meat production is dependent on how much livestock farmers can raise, Tyson hopes that by making meat easier to buy and prepare, it can get US consumers – already among the biggest consumers of meat in the world – to eat even more.