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Tyson Donates 21 ac. to Wilkesboro


(Edit.: This is a great example of public-private relationships that are critical to our collective success moving forward. The Town acquires a key piece of property and has the flexibility to develop it to its highest and best use. The EDC would like to thank Tyson and the Town of Wilkesboro for pulling this off – Jeff Garstka)


Tyson Foods Inc. has donated what Wilkesboro Mayor Mike Inscore called a “strategically located” 21.3-acre parcel to the Town of Wilkesboro, company and town officials announced this morning.

The land, along the north side of the Yadkin River, borders Tucker Hole Creek, is directly south of the U.S. 421-U.S. 421 Bypass interchange but doesn’t actually adjoin U.S. 421. An access road to the property intersects with the road off U.S. 421 to Kohl’s and Ruby Tuesday’s.

Inscore said Tyson Foods’ donation of the 21.3 acres, known as the “shaving bin” or “bottoms” property, marked another milestone in a strong and mutually beneficial relationship between the town and the company.

“We are very grateful for their generosity. This donation allows Wilkesboro multiple options on how to best utilize this asset as we plan for our future growth,” said Inscore.

“Tyson is, and always has been, a vital business partner to Wilkesboro,” he added. “Our citizens and our entire county have benefited from having their strong presence and we look forward to continue building on our solid relationship of cooperation.”

Doug Ramsey, Tyson vice president of operations, spoke about the strong partnership between Wilkesboro and the company this morning. “We really appreciate the city council for working with us to come to this point,” Ramsey said.

Town Manager Ken Noland said the property, recently appraised for $580,000, could become a business or industrial park. “We first want to determine the highest and best use for the property,” said Noland.

He noted that because of the property’s proximity to the raw water intake for the town’s public water supply on the south side of the Yadkin River, the donated property is designated by the state as being in a “critical” watershed area.

Because of this, said Noland, only 24 percent of it can be built upon or paved and as such have an impervious surface. This designation, under the N.C. Water Supply Watershed Protection Act, is supposed to prevent “non-point” water pollution from stormwater runoff.

The southwestern corner of the property along the Yadkin is a little over 1,000 feet upstream from the town’s water intake. The intake is a few feet upstream from where Moravian Creek enters the Yadkin.

Noland said town officials discussed asking officials in the Water Quality Section of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) about getting the critical area designation removed from the property since Wilkesboro, North Wilkesboro and county officials are seeking funds for establishing a water intake for both towns on W. Kerr Scott Reservoir.

He said DENR officials didn’t indicate support for this six or seven years ago when the town brought it up, but that DENR officials might respond more favorably now considering recent “changes in the mood in the Raleigh with changes in the state legislature.” Noland was referring to a more pro-business attitude.

He said another possibility is moving Tucker Hole Creek so that it empties into the Yadkin River downstream from Wilkesboro’s current water intake. The town has applied for a $500,000 grant to fund this undertaking.

Ramsey, said, “We’re extremely pleased to give back to the community. Wilkesboro is a wonderful location for our processing operations. We’re successful here due to the help of great city leaders like Mayor Inscore and our outstanding staff of 2,600 team members (in Wilkesboro) who keep our operations running.”

The property, most recently used for the company’s live production services, has been vacant since 2008.

A Tyson Foods press release said the company decided earlier this year to donate the property for public use after it was determined through conversations between Tyson and town leaders that it would be of greater benefit to Wilkesboro.

Tyson Foods acquired the property and other assets in Wilkesboro in 1989 when it purchased Holly Farms.

Bob Johnson, complex manager for Tyson Foods’ Wilkesboro operations, began his career in the industry on that very property when he started working for Holly Farms in 1972.

Johnson said Tyson moved its live production headquarters from the property to a building on N.C. 268 West in 2008. He said an office building and two or three garage facilities are still there.

“I’m humbled and happy that I’ve been able to watch this property go full circle and I hope it will be an economic benefit to this city and its citizens,” Johnson said.

Tyson’s Wilkesboro operations consist of chicken processing and further processing plants, hatcheries, lab services, engineering, and route and transportation sales.

Tyson’s combined Wilkesboro area payroll for 2010 was over $76 million. Tyson’s total wages, paid taxes, farmer and supplier pay within North Carolina was approximately $200 million in 2010.

Tyson Foods, founded in 1935 with headquarters in Springdale, Ark., is one of the world’s largest processors and marketers of chicken, beef and pork, the second-largest food production company in the Fortune 500 and a member of the S&P 500.

The company produces a wide variety of protein-based and prepared food products and is the recognized market leader in the retail and foodservice markets it serves.