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National Beef COO Tim Klein addresses company employees. About 250 of the company's more than 400 workers were at the 10th anniversary luncheon on Wednesday.

A Moultrie meat processing plant that has grown by roughly three times since opening here celebrated Wednesday its 10th anniversary.

National Beef Chief Operations Officer Tim Klein and other corporate officials were on hand to honor employees, who now total more than 450. The Kansas City, Mo.-based company began operations in 2001 as National Beef Case Ready in Moultrie with 120 employees and has gone through more than half a dozen expansions.

The project was the first in the state that was assisted by a OneGeorgia grant, a program funded through a portion of the state’s tobacco-settlement money and was focused on rural Georgia. The OneGeorgia grant provided $1.5 million to help the company locate the plant in Moultrie.

Having the company locate the plant here may have helped the community land other projects, said Darrell Moore, president of the Moultrie-Colquitt County Development Authority. National Beef was the first major industrial employer to locate in the county in more than 20 years and was followed a few years later by the Sanderson Farms chicken processing facility.

“They say success begets success,” Moore said during a telephone interview following the luncheon for employees and guests. “I don’t know why it is, when you’re doing well some people want to move there.

The plant has an annual $11 million in payroll and payments to local contractors and service providers, with that money being pumped back into the community, Moore said.

“Those dollars turn over several times,” he said. “”We’ve always said manufacturing jobs create your retail jobs.”

In addition to the Moultrie case-ready facility, which was retooled in 2007, National beef operates plants in Dodge City and Liberal, Kan., and Brawley, Calif. The company operates a second case-ready facility in Hummels Wharf, Penn., that, like the Moultrie plant, provides prepackaged meats to retailers.

The Moultrie plant services more than 650 stores and eight distribution centers in eight states, the company said in a news release. It covers 22  acres, or more than 114,000 square feet, and began operation in July 11, 2011.

“We are proud and excited to mark our tenth anniversary at the Moultrie facility,” Klein said. “This facility allows us to offer a tremendous range of case-ready products to food retailers. The hard-working employees at the Moultrie facility have been a driving force in the continued growth and overall success of our company, and we are grateful for their continued dedication.”

National Beef is the fourth-largest beef processor in the United States and has annual sales of more than $5 million.

 

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