One of Northwest Arkansas’ largest employers donated $1 million to assist in the revitalization of Springdale’s original center of commerce.
The Tyson Foods donation was made earlier today by Donnie Smith, the company’s president and CEO, to the Downtown Springdale Alliance, the nonprofit group focused on improving the city’s downtown. The money will support the organization’s effort to develop infrastructure and green space.
“My grandfather started Tyson Foods 80 years ago on Emma Avenue,” said Company Chairman John Tyson. “We’re proud of our heritage here. We look forward to the regeneration of downtown Springdale, and the positive impact it will have on this great city’s economy and its future.”
Today’s commitment to improve downtown Springdale by Tyson Foods is a major step forward in a region-wide effort to enhance all Northwest Arkansas downtowns.
In addition to the $1 million gift, Tyson Foods revealed plans for a building it owns at 516 E. Emma Ave. Constructed in the 1930s as a terminal for Jones Truck Lines, the building was once home to the Springdale Morning News and most recently was an Orscheln Farm & Home store.
Tyson Foods acquired the building in June 2014 and renovations will begin soon. The project is scheduled for completion in late summer 2015 and about 25 people will work at the location.
In honor of its heritage, the 28,000 square-foot building will be named the Tyson Foods JTL Building. It will become the new home to Tyson Foods’ Northwest Arkansas employment center and its company store, which are currently located in Lowell and the company’s records management group.
The employment center is a central location where the company takes applications and conducts orientation for hourly team members who work in one of its northwest Arkansas locations.
The company store is a wholesale outlet where employees may purchase Tyson Foods products and a limited selection of staple grocery items.
“For 80 years, we’ve lived and worked in Springdale,” Smith said. “For 80 years, we’ve done business here, shopped here, and raised our children here. We’re rooted in Springdale. But Springdale is not just our past. Springdale is our future. We’ve grown from a small operation to a global one and we’ve chosen to do that here.”
Tyson Foods owns additional properties in downtown Springdale, notably its first headquarters at 319 E. Emma Ave. While the company has not yet determined what it will do with the properties, an internal group is reviewing potential uses.
The company’s investment in downtown Springdale is an important part of advancing all the region’s downtown areas.
That’s why the Northwest Arkansas Council last year assisting five cities in advancing the success of their downtowns. The Council worked with consultant Daniel Hintz to develop a downtown dashboard that provides information on downtown retail sales, consumer expenditures, downtown office space and the residential market from 2008-2013 in each city.
The dashboard also briefly describes downtown master plan efforts, downtown organizational structures and provides downtown profiles in Bentonville, Fayetteville, Rogers, Siloam Springs and Springdale.