Food Industry In Arkansas Expands With Two New Facilities

In Little Rock, Elopak breaks ground on food packaging plant, while Americold Realty Trust has opened its cold storage facility expansion in Russellville.

Two food industry projects marked milestones in Arkansas in late March. Elopak, a global supplier of carton packaging and filling equipment, has begun construction in Little Rock, AR for its first U.S. production site. About an hour northwest in Russellville, Americold Realty Trust, a global leader in temperature-controlled logistics, real estate, and value-added services, held a ribbon cutting ceremony for the latest expansion of its facility there.

In December 2023, Norway-based Elopak announced that it had chosen the Port of Little Rock for its first U.S. production site—where the company will produce Pure-Pak® cartons (Gable Top packaging) for milk, juices, plant-based products, and liquid eggs. This represents a landmark investment for the region of about $70 million including the land, building, and equipment. The project will create more than 100 permanent jobs in the region for engineers, lithography printers, operators, maintenance technicians, logistics specialists and other support groups.

Elopak’s current operations in North America include a technical facility in Wixom, MI, as well as several converting facilities in Canada, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic.

Rendering of Elopak production facility in Little Rock, AR (Image: Arkansas Economic Development Commission)

At the groundbreaking last week, Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, “I was honored to join Elopak’s senior leadership at the end of last year to announce their new facility at the Port of Little Rock and all the investment and jobs it will bring. Arkansas beat out several other states for this project, showing that cutting taxes, investing in education, and building up our workforce is the key to bringing new companies to our state.”

Clint O’Neal, Executive Director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, said, “Great international companies like Elopak are discovering that Arkansas has everything needed to be successful, from a favorable business climate to workforce to available land. Congratulations to Elopak on breaking ground on its new manufacturing facility at the Port of Little Rock. We look forward to Elopak’s continued growth in Arkansas.”

“Elopak is the perfect example of the types of companies we want to welcome to the business community in Little Rock. Elopak will offer competitive pay and benefits, a state-of-the-art workplace, and a welcoming culture that promotes employee wellness, global perspective, and environmental sustainability. We are thrilled to welcome Elopak and look forward to a long-term relationship.” Jay Chesshir, President and CEO of the Little Rock Regional Chamber.

Ribbon Cutting In Russellville, AR

Meanwhile, Americold Realty Trust, a global leader in temperature-controlled logistics, real estate, and value-added services, held a ribbon cutting ceremony for the expansion of its Russellville facility. State and local leaders, along with company executives, gathered to celebrate the opening. “We’re excited to expand our presence in Arkansas,” said George Chappelle, Chief Executive Officer at Americold.  “This facility was built with state-of-the-art automation to support production and the supply chain for one of North America’s leading branded food companies. We continue to innovate to provide best-in-class service for our customers as we help them feed the world.”

Americold Realty Trust storage and distribution facility expansion in Russellville, AR (Photo: Arkansas Economic Development Commission)

Having announced its decision to expand at this Arkansas site in August 2021, Americold has invested $90 million and created 30 new jobs to expand its operations. As part of the expansion, Americold constructed this automated 131,000-square-foot cold storage and distribution facility at the location, adding 42,000 pallet positions and 13 million cubic feet at the site.

“It was an honor to join the Americold team to open their newest expansion in Russellville. Low taxes, a friendly business environment, and my administration’s focus on education and workforce give Arkansas a competitive edge. I’m glad companies like Americold see our advantage and are doubling down on the Natural State,” said Gov. Sanders.

“Americold is a leader in the temperature-controlled warehousing sector, and we welcome the company’s growth in Arkansas,” said O’Neal of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission. “This ribbon cutting represents the company’s ongoing investment in Arkansas and highlights our state’s strength in the food and beverage industries, as well as our geographic importance in the distribution and logistics of the cold storage supply chain.”

As part of Americold’s commitment to give back to the local communities it serves, the company and Feed the Children will come together to support more than 300 Russellville families. Each participating family was set to receive a 25-pound box of food and a 15-pound box of personal-care essential items following the ribbon cutting ceremony. Americold has been a partner of Feed the Children for more than six years.

Based in Atlanta, GA, Americold is the world’s largest publicly traded real estate investment trust (REIT) focused on the ownership, operation, acquisition, and development of temperature-controlled warehouses. The company operates 245 facilities across the globe with 11 facilities in Arkansas.

“We are excited about the expansion of the Americold facility in Russellville, showcasing yet another great community partnership,” said Russellville Mayor Fred Teague. “The increased capacity will not only bring new job opportunities but will also allow Americold’s customer to increase production and distribution. Both Americold and its customer are valued community partners, not only contributing to local employment but also impacting families worldwide. They are great examples of our strong local industry in the Arkansas River Valley.”

“Americold’s ribbon cutting is another example of tremendous growth in Russellville, said Dr. Megan Selman, President and CEO of the Russellville Area Chamber of Commerce. “Americold is a global company who adds value to our local economy and is an excellent community partner. This expansion highlights their commitment to investing in Russellville and creating quality careers for the people in our regional community.”

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