Group formed to protest Tyson chicken plant proposal in Sedgwick County

(Photo courtesy #NoTysonSedgwickCounty)

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Tyson is considering adding at least 1,500 jobs to Sedgwick County by building a chicken processing plant. It’s over a $300 million investment.

But not everyone says the jobs should come to Sedgwick County.

“I do eat meat, but I don’t eat Tyson. I want to know who raises it. And I want locally raised,” says Lori Lawrence. “We can’t stop Tyson, but we can stop them from coming here.”

Lawrence started #NoTysonSedgwickCounty. And, she says, it’s an effort that she just started.

“Once we got started, we’ve had so many people on Facebook,” says Lawrence.

While Lawrence says she has concerns about Tyson Foods and its environmental record, some with the county commission say Tyson already operates in Kansas.

“They do operate four other plants in our state,” says Sedgwick County Commissioner Michael O’Donnell. “Everybody needs to take a step back and keep an open mind, because I think there are way too many emotions involved on both sides. You have people who say I want those jobs no matter what and then you have people who say I don’t want Tyson here no matter what. But what I think we need to keep in mind is we are talking about a minimum of 1,500 jobs in Sedgwick county that don’t exist today.”

O’Donnell says he did a video conference with the Kansas Department of Agriculture this week. And he says the state board of Ag is on board with Tyson opening another plant in the Sunflower state.

He also plans on doing more study before any plant proposal that becomes final.

“You are talking about jobs that are full-time, with health insurance, retirement and other benefits. And we have 17,000 people in Sedgwick County that are unemployed or underemployed… people who are only working 30 hours a week because their company does not want to give them benefits,” says O’Donnell. “But we need to study this further.”

Lawrence says she and her group will meet Saturday at 9 a.m. at Linwood Park Recreation Center to organize and try to gain more interest in the group, #NoTysonSedgwickCounty.

Tyson has not announced plans on where its next plant will be located. The company is considering three locations.


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