RINGGOLD, VA. – Tyson Foods Inc. held a grand opening for its new 325,000-square-foot poultry plant in Danville, Va., on Nov. 28.

Touted as one of the most automated Tyson facilities, the new plant will produce 4 million lbs of fully cooked products weekly. 

The company invested $300 million in the project and expects to hire nearly 400 employees. Items that will be processed include chicken nuggets and Any’tizer Snacks. The completed project sits in Cane Creek Centre, an industrial park jointly owned by the City of Danville and Pittsylvania County. 

“Danville represents a significant commitment to the region and we take our responsibility to enhance the communities where we live and work seriously,” said Donnie King, president and chief executive officer of Tyson Foods during the grand opening. “This plant is also a significant step toward our ongoing goal of operational excellence by investing in innovative technology and automation. This facility delivers on our commitment to ensuring best-in-class service for our customers and accelerating our long-term growth.”

Various state and local officials attended the opening including Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin.

“The Commonwealth’s business climate, infrastructure and skilled workforce facilitate a long-term partnership with Tyson Foods, and we thank the company for reinvesting in Virginia with its operation in Danville-Pittsylvania County,” he said.

The Danville facility will feature high-speed automated case packing lines and high-speed robotic case palletizing units. Tyson added that this technology helps maximize operational efficiency and increase overall team member safety.

Other features include a production inspection process using metal detection and X-ray vision grading, to ensure customers receive safe, high-quality products.

“The combination of our team and technology at Danville will strengthen our ability to better meet demand for retail and foodservice fully cooked Tyson brand products,” said Wes Morris, group president of poultry at Tyson Foods. “The Danville plant incorporates the latest technology that brings real-time intelligence to our processes, products and workplace experience for team members.”

Tyson will also introduce its first integration at scale of wearable armband devices to monitor and improve worker health, safety and productivity. The company said the device’s integrated technology sensors relay environmental data to safety managers to identify risk exposures.

Tyson Ventures, Tyson Foods’ venture capital division, invested in Iterate Labs, a wearable technology company, in 2021. It’s also an initial investor in Mentore, a smartwatch application.

Another partnership Tyson made with the new Danville facility was creating a Maintenence Technology training program with Danville Community College to help with the growing industrial maintenance field inside the company.

In the initial facility agreement in 2021, Tyson said it committed to buying 60 million lbs of chicken raised by Virginia producers over the next three years.

The company has operated in Virginia for more than 50 years and employs more than 2,000 people across the state in its hatchery, grain and processing operations in Temperanceville on the Eastern Shore.

Tyson Foods stated it’s making a $1.3 billion investment in automation across its operations. Company officials explained that the Danville facility is the first facility running a ‘suite’ of automation at the final pack-out scale, with two more facilities opening in early 2024. 

The chicken business continues to go through a restructuring process at Tyson. Earlier in 2023, the company announced plans to close processing plants in Van Buren and North Little Rock, Ark., Dexter and Noel, Mo., Glen Allen, Va., and Corydon, Ind.