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The Siloam Springs-based Simmons Foods announced on Monday $500 million strategic growth plan for the company.

Simmons Pet Food announced plans for a fourth high-speed canning line at its Emporia, Kan, facility; a new pet food distribution facility in nearby Edgerton, Kan; and the start-up of the second line of canned pet food at its Dubuque, Iowa, facility, according to a press release issued by Simmons Foods.

Earlier this year, the company completed its exit from the dry pet food and pet treats categories as part of a strategic plan to focus solely on wet pet food, the release states.

“The fourth line in Emporia will be capable of producing 60,000 pounds per hour and will expand the total annual plant output to more than 70 million cases (1.6+ billion units) by early 2024,” said Scott Salmon, president of Simmons Pet Food. “As we set the Emporia plans in motion, we are on the eve of also starting operations of our second line of production at our Dubuque facility.”

In addition to the new canned pet food capacity in Emporia, the company also announced it is investing in packaging automation and a new distribution hub in Edgerton, Kan, to better meet the growing demand for multi- and variety-packed pet food products. The distribution center will open later this year.

“We are thrilled to establish a 750,000 square foot distribution hub in nearby Edgerton, Kansas,” said Chad Morris, senior vice president of Supply Chain at Simmons. “Edgerton is an ideal location for new warehouse capacity and automated packaging operations to streamline the distribution of product to our customers throughout the U.S.”

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The Emporia and Edgerton projects represent a $115 million investment and will create 177 jobs.

“Simmons’ decision to expand their already significant operations and hire 177 more Kansas workers is good for Emporia, Edgerton, and the entire state,” said Kansas Governor Laura Kelly. “More and more businesses are choosing to grow here in Kansas – showing that our work to make Kansas the most pro-business state in the country is paying off.”

“Private sector investment and job growth have been at the forefront of Governor Kelly’s economic development strategy since day one,” said Lieutenant Governor and Commerce Secretary David Toland. “The state will continue finding ways to encourage great companies like Simmons, to expand and hire even more Kansans to contribute to our tremendous economic growth and success.”

The company’s Emporia facility has been in operation since 1998, beginning with one line and approximately 250 team members. Today the operation includes a Flex plant (producing pet food in pouches, cups and tubs), in addition to the canned pet food plant. The combined operation has grown to employ more than 1,500 team members.

“We are excited that Simmons Pet Food has chosen once again to invest in the community of Emporia,” said Becky Smith, Mayor of the City of Emporia. “Simmons Pet Food is a leader in showing how a company can balance profits and the well being of their team members. The pet food industry is growing, and Simmons is clearly a company that is leading the industry. This latest expansion will be another shining example of how private industry, a city entity, and the citizens of Emporia can pull together to make our community the best it can be.”

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“The addition of this fourth production line is an outstanding testament to the company’s commitment to its team members, its customers and to the region,” said Chuck Scott, President of the Regional Development Association of East Central Kansas. “All parties involved, from the local, regional and state level, stand out as excellent partners when businesses consider investments like this one by Simmons.”

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“Emporia and the state of Kansas have been excellent partners for Simmons,” said Salmon. “We are grateful for their support as we grow our business, provide opportunities for team members and carry out our vision to be the most trusted partner in the industry for food that nourishes and delights the pets we love.”

Simmons opened a new canned pet food facility in Dubuque, Iowa, in 2021 and also announced a second line will begin operation in August 2022.

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