The Tyson Foods plant closures in the Ozarks have brought with them a wave of economic soul-searching as communities grapple with the consequences of an indefinite loss of jobs.
For decades, Tyson Foods has been a driving force in the economy of the Ozarks. The Arkansas-based company employed 8,000 people in its regional plants, where it processed chicken, pork, and beef for packaging and distribution. But in July, Tyson announced the closure of four of its plants, representing 775 jobs and millions of dollars in lost revenue.
At first, the effects of the closures were not immediately felt. Many of the workers at the Tyson plants were employed on a temporary basis, and many had already begun to look for new jobs even before the closures were announced. But more permanent employees, especially those who had been with Tyson for years, are now facing the prospect of unemployment for the foreseeable future.
It is this second wave of workers who have caused the most consternation among the locals. The economic impacts of the closures will touch generations to come, as the available job opportunities for recent high school graduates become even more limited.
The Ozarks’ local government has been searching for ways to support the affected families, but its resources are limited. The state has been slow to respond, despite offers of assistance from the Department of Commerce.
The Tyson plant closures have thus far been an immense blow to communities in the Ozarks. Whether already laid off or still waiting, the workers have suffered the consequences of the loss of the manufacturing jobs that once provided employment and economic opportunity in the area. With little hope of a rapid recovery, the focus for now is on providing assistance to those who have been affected by the closures and finding a way to create new opportunities in the Ozarks.