The recent closures of Tyson meat processing plants in the Ozarks has left local government officials and citizens alike soul searching on how to reverse the economic decline of the region. The closure of these plants will result in an estimated 1,500 job losses in the four state area, with Arkansas alone being responsible for more than 1,000 of those jobs.
Such closures leave a lingering economic impact for years to come. The City of Berryville, Arkansas, for example, stands to lose around 460 jobs which make up 5% of the city’s entire employment base. Other cities, such as Springdale and Fayetteville, Arkansas, will suffer even more greatly as their plant closures will put thousands of jobs in jeopardy. These closures will also have an effect beyond job displacement, inside and outside of the Ozark region.
The lost jobs in the region come from an industry that has traditionally provided a steady demand for labour, meaning it could take many years for any comparable alternative to emerge. Though some benefits remain, the overall impact of these closures will be felt by many in the long-term. Many of the communities affected were already struggling financially and will now have to cope with an even further drop in revenue.
Though Tyson’s closure of their regional plants may paint a bleak picture of the Ozarks’ future, the local governments and communities are working hard to bring alternative opportunities and steady streams of revenue to the area. Organizations such as the Ozark Regional Economic Partnership are formulating solutions to help soften the economic blow of Tyson’s departure. They are looking into ways to bring additional manufacturing jobs to the Ozarks area from other companies or exploring opportunities to build a local business economy.
These closures have ignited a spirit of soul-searching in the Ozarks. Though the area faces a new period of uncertainty, the local communities will work hard towards the goal of attracting new jobs and restoring economic prosperity. With the drive and spirit of the Ozarks, the region could be well on its way to finding long-term solutions and bringing an abundance of added opportunities for the future.