The construction of Mountaire’s $170 million, 255,000-sq. ft. facility in downtown Siler City is nearly complete, with the company expected to open its doors for poultry processing in …
The construction of Mountaire’s $170 million, 255,000-sq. ft. facility in downtown Siler City is nearly complete, with the company expected to open its doors for poultry processing in mid-January, according to Mark Reif, Mountaire’s community relations director.
In anticipation of the plant’s opening, the town of Siler City has secured grants to improve the town’s infrastructure to ensure it can support the additional load placed on the systems once it opens.
Last January, the town approved of an agreement with the Golden LEAF Foundation for $2 million in funding for a project at the Wastewater Treatment Plant.
According to Bryan Thompson, Siler City’s town manager, the project is two phases: first, improvements to the facility’s nutrient removal process, and then an expansion. The entirety of the nutrient reduction portion of the project will be about $7 million with the entire project costing about $21,430,000.
The proposed expansion will be considered following the nutrient removal project. The town is interested in increasing its capacity from processing four million gallons a day to six million gallons a day.
That expansion is imperative for future growth in Siler City as the town announced in July that its Wastewater Treatment Plant is at capacity – at least on paper, due to the allocation for the Chatham Siler City Advanced Manufacturing site.
In May, Siler City announced that it had received several other grants to perform upgrades to the town’s water and wastewater treatment plants in anticipation of Mountaire’s opening.
The town received a Golden LEAF Foundation grant for $600,000. Together with a $2.3 million grant from the ConnectNC bond, the town is investing in a Dual Train Active Flow System.
The system will approve the effectiveness and efficiency of the water plant’s filtration system, according Thompson.
At the same time, town received several grants for its Wastewater Treatment Plant project including a $3 million grant from the Department of Commerce.
Also in the spring, Mountaire held the first of several job fairs in Siler City to find the nearly 1,300 employees to staff its poultry processing plant.
According to Reif, the company is initially hiring around 120 people for what is called the “second processing” area. Those new hires are being trained in the company’s Lumber Bridge location.
Once the plant is running at full staffing levels, the company is poised to be the largest private employer in Chatham County, second only to the Chatham County Schools.
According to the North Carolina Department of Commerce, with the anticipated growth of new jobs, Mountaire will be the largest private employer in Chatham County.
The town gave the company right-of-way along the portion of East Third Street where the poultry plant is located to make way for a pedestrian bridge that will allow those employees to cross from the parking lot to the plant without having to cross traffic.
A portion of East Third has been closed since the summer to facilitate the construction of the pedestrian bridge and the installation of heavy equipment.
Originally the road was scheduled to be closed for just about a month, but that time period was extended twice.
In November, Mountaire requested the town consider permanently closing a portion of the street within the city limits, noting concerns about traffic flow and safety, according to Reif.
In addition to the Mountaire plant, East Third Street is home to about 50 other local businesses, between the stoplight at U.S. Highway 64 and the stoplight at Second Avenue in downtown Siler City.
Business owners and town leaders noted concerns about the notion of closing the street that serves as a major artery to downtown. As a result, the town chose to wait to consider Mountaire’s request until after the plant is up and running.
NCDOT scheduled the reopening of East Third on Jan. 1, about two weeks before Mountaire’s anticipated opening.