Fair Oaks Food breaks ground on automated bacon facility

Published: Sep. 1, 2022 at 10:30 PM CDT
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DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - Executives and city leaders celebrated a multi-million dollar groundbreaking Thursday afternoon, on a state-of-the-art, food plant in Davenport.

Fair Oaks Foods will build a 150,000-square-foot facility at the Eastern Iowa Industrial Center, off of I-80. According to the company, the meat-processing plant will bring about 250 new jobs to the Quad Cities, and it’s the type of jobs that had both local and industry officials fired up.

“Look in a 360-degree circle of all the things going on,” Davenport Mayor Mike Matson said. “We’re just excited as heck.”

Company officials said the $134 million facility will produce fully cooked bacon at first. Automated production lines will minimize person-to-food contact.

Chief Operating Officer, Joseph Freda said they’re eager to introduce technical jobs that are different from a typical meat packing plant.

“We hope to ... inspire people to better themselves,” Freda said. “If we can teach you a skill set, or we can work with a technical college to help teach you a skill set ... you can have a better career.”

This venture hopes to make an annual economic impact of $182 million in the QCA. Tammi Petsche, Vice President of Business and Economic Growth with the QC Chamber of Commerce, said it’s a great investment in the pork capital of the country.

“To have a bacon facility right here in our region is awesome,” Petsche said. “It will help our agricultural community not only here, but across Iowa and across Illinois.”

Meanwhile, Matson said higher skilled and better-paying jobs, benefit more than just the labor market.

“[The] education system will grow, our high schools will grow, people living here, etc., because of the opportunities that businesses [provide] and all the new companies that are coming here.”

The family-owned company is based in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin. It looked at over 100 sites across the U.S. for the new facility. This new plant marks its first expansion project outside of its home state.

CEO Michael Thompson said the QC is full of diversity and integrity, principles he feels his company embodies.

“It’s very important to us that where we locate that, that the townships the communities have those same values,” Thompson said. “We want the people with the values to come to work for us and have long careers doing it.”

Officials said they are already looking to hear from local suppliers and vendors. They will start the hiring process for the plant in 2023 and anticipates opening in early 2024.