Bell & Evans spending $263M to expand facility in Lebanon County
Poultry giant Bell & Evans is starting on a major expansion project in Bethel Township, Lebanon County, with plans to create more than 1,000 new jobs.
In a joint announcement Friday with the Wolf administration, Bell & Evans said it plans to spend about $263 million on a new 560,000-square-foot poultry harvesting facility. The new plant will house four processing lines, each with a capacity of processing 600,000 birds per week.
The facility is being built on a 90-acre tract of land at 568 Chestnut Hill Road, next to the company's processing plant. It is designed to meet increased retail and food-service demand for the company's chicken products.
The company already processes a million birds per week at its existing harvesting facility, according to a November announcement about the new project.
"This expansion is supporting local farmers in 15 surrounding counties by expanding our grow out and breeder operations," owner Scott Sechler said in a statement.
For its new facility, Bell & Evans plans to source chickens from within a one-hour radius of the facility. The company expects to support operations of more than 300 Pennsylvania poultry farms through this project.
At its own complex, Bell & Evans expects to add 1,069 full-time jobs over a three-year period. The company already has 1,650 employees.
Bell & Evans said in March that the new plant is slated to begin operations in early 2020. The company, which supplies chicken products to stores like Whole Foods Market, Wegmans and Chipotle, opened a $40 million chicken hatchery last year.
In January, the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority approved an $11 million loan through PennVest to help with costs of a wastewater treatment facility needed to complete the expansion.
The company also has received a funding package from the Department of Community and Economic Development for a $2 million Pennsylvania First grant, as well as $2.1 million in job creation tax credits and $421,650 in funding for job training through the WEDnet PA program.
Bell & Evans is the oldest branded chicken company in America, dating back to 1894. The company finished 2017 with $335 million in revenue, up from $326 million in 2016.