Swift Prepared Foods ready to expand from Moberly to second plant in Columbia

Source: NBC 8 KOMU

Swift Prepared Foods, a national, JBS-owned meat processing company, is set to open April 6 on Paris Road in Columbia. Swift’s other Missouri location has been operating in Moberly since May 2021.

The Columbia plant is expected to be one of the largest Swift plants in its company, at over 325,000 square feet, according to previous KOMU 8 coverage.

The plant was expected to bring more than 100 entry-level management jobs. This report was from January, which is when the plant was initially expected to open. In a more recent release, the company announced it would have a ribbon cutting at 11 a.m. Thursday, April 6 at the new Paris Road location.

Constituents in Columbia are eager for the economic impact the new plant will bring, especially after seeing the growth it brought to Moberly.

“It’s been a good impact here in the community,” Travis Miller, the manager at the Moberly Swift plant, said.

Miller has been project manager since before the plant opened. He says after seeing multiple companies close during the pandemic, Swift came in at just the right time.

“The timing was luck, so to speak, but it was fortunate for a lot of our employees so that they didn’t have to do without and maybe commute a long distance to find a good paying job,” Miller said. “I think it’s brought a lot of a lot of focus, so to speak to the community.”

Swift in Moberly actually exceeded its expectations for employees. As of January 1 of this year, the company employed over 300 people, even though it was only projected to create about 200 new jobs.

“We knew it helped the economy, but there’s helping to a greater extent than we thought,” Troy Bock, the director of Moberly Parks and Recreation, said.

Using a $290,000 donation from Swift, Moberly Parks and Recreation was able to fund three projects: a solar pavilion in Rothwell Park, a splash pad at Tannehill Park and an amphitheater.

“Our goal is benefiting people’s physical and mental wellness by giving them outdoor recreation opportunities in this case without a financial barrier because it’s free access for the community,” Bock said.

One long-time Moberly resident has been a benefactor of Swift’s Moberly location, even after leaving the company as a meat stacker.

“I was there almost a year,” said Tina Graham, a Moberly resident who lives directly across the street from the splash pad. “And then I had to leave there through some circumstances, but it was all good.”

As someone who has lived in Moberly for over a decade, Graham says she can speak to the economic growth the Swift plant has brought to her town.

“You can already see it,” Graham said. “You can already see [Swift employees] having better lives. I mean, they employ tons of people. That’s definitely going to have effect on this little town because money doesn’t make the world go round, but it does oil the wheel.”

Randy Asbury, the president of the Moberly Area Economic Development Corporation, echoed Graham’s sentiment about the growth the city has seen.

“For a community the size of Moberly, it was a very significant project for us,” Asbury said. “Those come along here, not on a regular basis because of the number of employees and the size of this particular project. So we were pleased that it did occur. Since that time, of course, they’ve grown substantially. They provide good solid jobs, very stable jobs.”

As for the Columbia plant, Miller says the city has a lot to look forward to. The Columbia location will process Italian meats (Principe Italia) unlike the Moberly location, which packages other forms of raw meat.

“We’re kind of in the heartland. We’re here to stay, and and it’s a great place to work,” Miller said. “There’s lots of caring people, and it’s a great team. It’s something good to be a part of.”

Job listings for the two mid-Missouri plants can be found on the JBS website.