Poultry producer invests $35 million in Bledsoe County operation

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A global poultry breeding company with operations in Tennessee will invest $35.3 million to expand in Pikeville with a new feed mill, creating up to 36 new jobs.

"Our strategy is to continue to expand our local footprint, contributing to the growth in jobs, while also providing quality breeding stock to our customers throughout the U.S. and around the world," Jan Henriksen, CEO of Aviagen, said in an announcement of the expansion Thursday.

The Huntsville, Alabama-based company has operations in Pikeville, Crossville and throughout the Cumberland Plateau, and employs more than 700 people across Tennessee. Pikeville Mayor Philip Cagle said the feed mill will bring much-needed jobs to the area.

"We feel they will be a great asset for our community with jobs and the economic impact for the Sequatchie Valley," he said. "This will be a great opportunity for the local farmers to be able to produce the much-needed crops that Aviagen will need to produce the feed."

Bledsoe County is one of 11 counties in Tennessee considered distressed by the Appalachian Regional Commission, which means it ranks among the 10% most economically distressed counties in the nation. In May, the county had an unemployment rate of 10.6%, down from 16.5% in April, according to the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

As an agricultural community, Pikeville and Bledsoe County are a good fit for the expansion, said Bledsoe County Mayor Gregg Ridley.

"I am grateful to Aviagen, a worldwide enterprise, for selecting Bledsoe County to be the home of their latest strategic investment," he said.

Aviagen is a global poultry genetics company that supplies broiler breeding stock to customers in more than 100 countries. The company owns operations across the United States, United Kingdom, Europe, Turkey, Latin America, India, Australia, New Zealand, and has joint ventures in Asia.

Contact Mary Fortune at mfortune@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6653. Follow her on Twitter at @maryfortune.

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