FINNEY COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) — A new plant can have a major impact on a community as Finney County has learned since Tyson opened a plant in Holcomb a few decades ago.
It’s a staple of the southwest Kansas economy.
“We pump groundwater,” said Steve Quakenbush with the Finney County Historical Society, “we grow corn, we produce feed from that corn, we feed cattle, and we process those cattle and ship beef all over the world.”
With 3,200 workers, the Tyson plant in Holcomb is the biggest employer in Finney County and is partly responsible for the region’s diversity.
Somali refugee Halima Farah is studying to become a nurse and found a job at Tyson to help reach her goal.
“I’m a translator,” she said. “Yeah, I do help the new hires or people who are from my community who don’t speak English. I help them understand the policies and about the company and everything.”
Garden City officials say the plant played a key role in population growth, from about 18,000 when the plant opened in 1980 to about 31,000 today.
The population grew so fast so quickly, Finney County officials tell KSN that when the plant first opened, many employees slept in tents in Stevens Park, because there was not enough housing available.
That population growth meant the community needed more teachers, more businesses, and more charities.
The Tyson plant is a major donor to Finney County United Way.
“Between 220 and 240,000 dollars every year,” said Susan Escareno with Finney County United Way. “Without Tyson, we would only be able to allocate about half of what we do now. They raise almost half of our funding every year, and that goes to over 20 nonprofits in our community.”