Tyson Foods celebrates opening of bacon facility in Transpark

Published 3:49 pm Thursday, January 25, 2024

By Jack Dobbs, Bowling Green Daily News

BOWLING GREEN — Who doesn’t love bacon? Fondness for the product was on full display Thursday.

Tyson Foods formally opened its new $355 million, 400,000 square-foot food production facility in the Kentucky Transpark on Thursday in Bowling Green.

Gov. Andy Beshear was in attendance. Beshear visited the facility during its groundbreaking ceremony two years ago.

“Announcements are incredible, they’re the hope,” Beshear said. “Groundbreakings are fun – they’re the progress. But today’s ribbon cutting is the realization of that hope and that progress.”

The facility is expected to have 450 employees when fully staffed.

Donnie King, president and CEO of Tyson, said bacon has become one of the company’s biggest products.

“This facility will be an enormous help to us as a company and our ability to service both customers and consumers,” King said.

The Bowling Green location is Tyson’s third bacon production facility in the United States and the first in Kentucky. The other two facilities are in Omaha, Nebraska, and Vernon, Texas.

For this newest facility, Tyson has partnered with the Southern Kentucky Community and Technical College system to provide relevant training and preparation for future employees.

“It gives us a great chance to further develop strong technical talents we seek here in Bowling Green,” King said.

Pay begins at $19 an hour for new employees. Tyson Human Resources Manager Kristen Martin said once new hires select a specific position to work in at the facility, pay is adjusted accordingly.

“We post internal jobs every Tuesday, and that gives our team members an opportunity to bid into those higher paying jobs,” Martin said.

Martin said 365 people have so far been hired, with the remaining 75 positions expected to be filled by early spring. She said most of the people hired will be in the production area, with around 80 working in maintenance.

The facility will support Tyson’s Jimmy Dean and Wright’s brands of bacon. The facility is expected to produce 2 million pounds of bacon a week, covering both retail sales products as well as bacon used in food service.

Technology is at the forefront of the new facility. Driverless forklifts and other robotic equipment will eliminate “ergonomically stressful tasks” such as moving large pork bellies along production lines, packing and stacking boxes and safely moving products throughout the facility.

Makenzie Young, an industrial engineer with the facility, said at Tyson’s other bacon facilities, there are still large amounts of this stress.

“Those ergonomic stresses are something we really took into consideration when automating the facility,” Young said. “The heaviness of picking up the pork bellies is no longer present.”

Tyson’s investment in the facility is the second largest economic investment in Warren County’s history, behind the $2 billion AESC battery plant investment.

Warren County Judge-Executive Doug Gorman said the total economic investment over 10 years from the facility is around $4 billion. Gorman said this will provide funds to improve Warren County.

“It really fosters so many other things,” Gorman said. “It’s a multiplier. It’s never just about the first day, it’s about what it’s going to do generationally in the community.”