Grand Island got some great news last week when JBS USA announced a $95 million expansion project has already started at its Grand Island beef production facility.

This shows JBS, our community’s largest employer, has great confidence in the future of its Grand Island operation and is positioning it to continue to meet its international customer base’s demand for high-quality U.S. beef.

It’s also good news for the workforce that plant operations will continue throughout the almost two-year expansion project, which is expected to be completed early in 2021.

The JBS plant in Grand Island has the capacity to process more than 1.4 million cattle a year and it partners with more than 670 local producers who supply cattle so the company can export beef to more than 30 countries.

Those producers also get some peace of mind from this announcement as it assures that, despite the low prices farmers are receiving for their crops right now, the demand for their beef will continue.

Zack Ireland, the plant manager, said the expansion will “strengthen our longstanding commitment to local farmers and ranchers, our team members, key customers and the community of Grand Island, whose support has been critical to our ongoing success.”

The facility has been operating in Grand Island since it was built by Swift & Co. in 1965. It has changed ownership several times over the years, with JBS buying it in 2007. But it has never been shut down and with this project, the company promises to maintain its status as one of the state’s leading cattle processors well into the future.

The two-shift beef-processing facility that employs more than 3,500 people produces nearly 1 billion pounds of quality beef and beef products each year.

It appears that the expansion project will focus on updating equipment and facilities and working to improve efficiency and safety, rather than expanding the workforce. But still it is great news to the local economy as the expansion project could provide additional construction work for area companies. It also means that JBS will continue to need the services provided by area trucking companies and other businesses it patronizes.

JBS puts a considerable amount of money into the Grand Island economy through the money it pays its workers, who spend much of their income right here in Central Nebraska.

Agriculture continued to make up a big portion of Central Nebraska’s and Nebraska’s economy and this news from JBS shows one of the largest ag employers in this area will continue to contribute to our community’s growth.

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