Crossville agrees to donate land for poultry lab expansion

Aviagen Crossville
Aviagen has had a presence in Crossville since the 1990s. UCBJ Photo/Liz Engel Clark

CROSSVILLE – The City of Crossville will donate 3.6 acres of land for an existing industry expansion – one that will create nearly two dozen new jobs and pave the way for the company’s continued growth in the region.

Aviagen, the world’s leading poultry breeder, has outgrown its current footprint and is looking to construct a new $2.2 million veterinary lab in Cumberland County. Officials have selected a 3.6-acre tract on Duer Court for that 14,800-square-foot facility and recently asked the city to donate that property free of charge.

There is a precedent for such a request. Crossville City Manager David Rutherford said past councils have considered a $5,000 credit per job created to offset the cost of land. Aviagen expects to add 15-20 new positions with its expansion. Factoring in the estimated appraised value of the Duel Court land at $90,000 total – or $25,000 an acre – Rutherford said Aviagen’s request was well in line.

“In other words, the property could be provided at no cost, if council so chooses,” he said.

Aviagen has a preliminary floor plan for its proposed Crossville lab.
Aviagen has a preliminary floor plan for its proposed Crossville lab.

At a meeting Thursday evening, the Crossville council unanimously approved that request. At a work session last week, some members said they should work to better care for existing industry and business. Aviagen has had a presence in Crossville since the early 1990s – it was known as Ross Breeders until 2000 – and currently has 18 poultry farms in the county. The company has grown by 21.6 percent in Crossville over the past four years, company officials say, and its local labor pool – they expect to employ 343 by fiscal year 2016 – represents nearly 10 percent of Aviagen’s global workforce. Total wages, salaries and benefits to those area employees during the 2016 fiscal year is a budgeted $15 million.

Company officials did not speak at the city council meeting and there was no word on a timeline for the new facility. A call left by the UCBJ was not returned. More information will be published as it becomes available.

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