022111-LGV Business

The Longview Business Park is seen in February 2011.

Poultry breeding company Aviagen North America is expected to make an investment of more than $24 million in the Longview Business Park and create at least 69 jobs in the next couple of years.

The Longview Economic Development Corp. board Thursday approved a package of incentives for the Huntsville, Alabama-based company that has locations across the globe.

LEDCO Chief Executive Officer and President Wayne Mansfield said the company will build a “high-tech” 50,000-to 60,000-square-foot facility on 15.7 acres in the Longview Business Park off Eastman Road. He said it’s been about five years since an economic development project located in the business park, and LEDCO is “excited” to bring the facility to South Longview.

“This is essentially a genetics lab,” that incubates and hatches breeder chicks that are then shipped all over the world when they are a day old. The chicks are not for consumption, he said, and there is no odor associated with the facility.

At Thursday’s City Council meeting, Longview Mayor Andy Mack said the facility will have high standards for cleanliness and environmental controls, describing it as a “scientific genetic lab.”

“This isn’t your normal smelly chicken house,” Mack said.

It’s a “unique” project for Longview, Mansfield said, because it’s in the agricultural sector.

“Aviagen offers specialty breeding stock to customers in more than 100 countries worldwide under the Arbor Acres, Indian River and Ross Brand names,” according to information from LEDCO.

The facility is a response to “strong demand for boiler breeding stock” in North America and around the world, Aviagen reported.

“With the ability to set 1.1 million eggs per week, the parent stock hatchery will supply customers both domestically in North America and internationally,” the company reported.

Aviagen North America President Marc DeBeer said strong demand for “healthy, affordable chicken meat” was consistent throughout the pandemic.

“We are committed to securing the supply of quality parent stock to help our customers put food on the tables of families throughout North America and around the world,” DeBeer said in a statement. “The new hatchery in Longview will play a big part in this goal.”

Aviagen said the Longview hatchery will be its ninth in North American and first in Texas, with construction expected to begin in September and be completed in July 2022.

The company cited Longview’s “strategic” location.

Jason Mack, the company’s vice president of operations, said Longview was chosen because of its location near regional and international airports and its “biosecure location away from other bird populations.’

“After a long, research-intensive search for the ideal location for our new hatchery, we unanimously chose Longview, a city with a robust labor pool, good work ethic of its citizens, and a strong infrastructure for agribusiness,” Jason said. “We are looking forward to becoming part of Longview and doing our part to promote the success of this thriving community.”

The incentive package includes LEDCO giving 15.7 acres in the Longview Business Park to Aviagen. The land is worth $549,000. LEDCO also will pay up to $150,000 for the sewer connection needed for the new facility and pay Aviagen $125,000 once it receives its certificate of occupancy. That will help offset land development costs, Mansfield said.

The incentives are contingent upon an investment of $15 million in the first year and $9.245 million in the second year and the creation of 12 jobs in the first year. The company would be expected to create and maintain a total of 69 jobs by years two and three.

“I welcome Aviagen to Longview. I am thankful to the board and staff of LEDCO for helping make this project a reality,” Longview Mayor Andy Mack said in a statement provided by LEDCO. “It is encouraging to see our business parks continue to attract new industry, significant investment, and new jobs into the community.”

Natalie Lynch, LEDCO board chairwoman, said the organization is “thrilled” that Aviagen is locating in Longview.

“Aviagen will bring a diverse set of jobs to our community which will be great for our workforce. This project is also further evidence that Longview is on the map for global companies and that makes us very excited for the future of our city,” she said.

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Jo Lee Ferguson wishes she kept her maiden name - Hammer - because it was perfect for a reporter. She’s a local girl who loves writing about her hometown. She and LNJ Managing Editor Randy Ferguson have two children and a crazy husky.