‘Sausage’ Sampson-bound

Kansas City Sausage LLC on Tuesday made it official, announcing the development of a state-of-the-art sausage production plant in northern Sampson County that will bring with it a taxable investment of nearly $45 million and 177 new jobs.

Industry officials were close to a decision last week and confirmed the selection Tuesday, with Sampson officials making the official announcement late in the day.

The expanded and renovated facility will be located at the site of the former Martins Abattoir & Wholesale Meats in northwest Sampson County, which was purchased by Kansas City Sausage in April 2014. The 90,000 square foot comprehensive operation — from live animal harvest through finished product shipping — will include a hog slaughtering plant which will process between 700 and 1,000 hogs per day, as well as a pork sausage processing plant which would annually produce 50 million pounds of finished product.

The project is a 50/50 joint venture partnership between Kansas City Sausage, LLC, which has operations in Kansas City, Mo., and Des Moines, Iowa, and Smithfield Foods, Inc., a global food company with existing operations in Sampson County.

The investment in jobs, building and equipment, as well as the increased demand for local hog production, will be a strong boost to Sampson County’s agricultural economy, local officials said following the announcement.

Kansas City Sausage has committed to create 177 new jobs (164 of those in 2016), at an average annual wage of $31,905.

In April, the Sampson County Board of Commissioners approved a performance-based grant back incentive package of $823,308 for the first five years of the plant’s operation. The county should retain that same amount in new property tax revenues.

The Independent reported just last week on the receipt of two grants totaling $1 million — $500,000 grants from the N.C. Rural Infrastructure Authority and Community Development Block Grant-Economic Development — seen as instrumental in Kansas City Sausage’s decision.

They will help cover the estimated $1.2 million cost for the construction of a pumping station and pipeline that will connect the plant to the Northern Cumberland County Regional Sewer Authority station near Falcon, along with system upgrades to accommodate the volume generated by the plant.

It is anticipated that demolition of the existing production facility will begin immediately, with construction of the new facilities to be completed by June 2016.

John Swope, director of the Sampson County Economic Development Commission, said then it would be a quick process once a site announcement was made, expressing optimism that site would be in Sampson.

“One critical element in this project is the extension of 14,700 linear feet of sewer infrastructure to serve the new plant,” Swope stated. “This would not would not have been possible without the willingness of the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners, the Fayetteville Public Works Commission and the Northern Cumberland County Regional Sewer (System) to consider infrastructure improvements which will allow the production plant to connect to the NORCRESS sewer system.”

He thanked the many agencies responsible for obtaining the grant funds.

“They are an investment in the economic viability of our community,” Swope said.

Sampson Commissioners chairman Billy Lockamy agreed, noting the hard work of many in Sampson and Cumberland counties, as well as at the state level, in realizing the funding needed for a key portion of a project that will benefit Sampson for years. He wished Kansas City Sausage the same longevity enjoyed by its site predecessor Martins Meats, a family business that endured for more than a half century in Sampson.

“We look forward to seeing Kansas City Sausage prosper here in our community for their own half century,” Lockamy attested.