PINE BLUFF, Ark. (KTHV) - The Jefferson County economy received a tough blow this week after a poultry plant that employed around 200 workers closed.
Horizon Foods opened a hen-processing plant in Pine Bluff about a year ago. The company would not comment on the closure when a THV 11 crew visited the plant on Wednesday, but some Jefferson County leaders did talk and called the closing a big surprise.
"You know, I'm as shocked as anyone else," said Jefferson County Judge Dutch King. "What we care about are the people that lost their jobs. We've got to take care of those people and think first and foremost about them."
King's doesn't know why the place closed.
"It was a good hit for us. We went out [and] recruited them, and we made some offers through the economic development tax that was passed," King added.
In February 2011, Jefferson County voters approved a sales tax increase for economic development efforts. That part of that sales tax money included a $20,000 credit against the purchase of refrigeration equipment for the plant.
King said a loss like this is tough for sure, but it won't take down his hometown.
"We've faced a lot of adversity in Pine Bluff over the years, and we will overcome it. We will work forward, and we will be positive, and we just want to help these people as best we can."
THV 11 also received a statement on this closure from the CEO of the Economic Development Alliance of Jefferson County. Lou Ann Nisbett wrote that she's distressed about this news and that the community needs these jobs. She's hopeful that the company can work on a plan and save the operation.
As for the workers, there is no official word yet on any assistance for them, but the county judge believes that the Economic Development Alliance for Jefferson County will do what it can to help out.
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