JBS USA officials announced on Wednesday that they would be providing $3.3 million dollars to Moore County, site of the JBS Cactus beef packing plant, for investments in projects designed to "respond to needs resulting from the coronavirus pandemic and invest in the region's future," according to a press release from the company.
"We are very proud of our role in providing food for American families, but we're also excited to have the opportunity to make this significant investment in our hometown," said JBS Cactus Plant General Manager Manny Guerrero.
The money is part of the $50 million Hometown Strong initiative announced earlier that is intended to fund improvements in communities across the nation where JBS USA and Pilgrim's Pride Corporation facilities are located and the bulk of employees live. As part of the initiative, $6.5 million was set aside for projects in the Texas cities of Cactus, Lufkin, Mt Pleasant, Nacogdoches, and Waco. A company spokesperson Friday said that total had not been increased and the $50 million national total had also not been increased. The announcement Wednesday means that Moore County will receive over half of the money earmarked for Texas projects. Company officials have not said why that decision was made.
According to the press release, local community leaders are now helping company officials come up with projects designed to relieve food insecurity, enhance community infrastructure and well-being, and help with COVID-19 emergency response and relief efforts. Among the projects they have already selected are helping to build the Cactus Aquatic Center in Cactus and updating the women's locker room and replacing the basketball court scoreboard in the Moore County YMCA in Dumas. A company spokesperson said Friday that JBS welcomes suggestions from community members, including for projects benefiting non-profit, non-governmental organizations. They can send their suggestions to email@example.com. All projects will be identified by the end of the year.
"Moore County sends its heartfelt appreciation to JBS USA's leadership and employees for reinvesting in our communities through its Hometown Strong initiative," said Moore County Judge Rowdy Rhoades. "While many industries shied away from added financial investments during the uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic, JBS USA, through its collaboration with our counties and cities, has cultivated additional partnerships and friendships during unprecedented circumstances. For this, our county and our communities are most grateful."
JBS Cactus and Moore County, along with meat packing plants across the country, were identified as COVID hot spots early on in the pandemic. With help from state and local governments, the company was able to keep the plant in Cactus operating, though at reduced capacity, hill controlling the spread of the disease among workers. Moore County now has a relatively low incidence of COVID-19 compared to the rest of the state, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.
With more than 3000 employees, JBS Cactus is the largest employer in Moore County by far. Over the years the company has helped purchase exercise equipment for the Cactus Recreation Center and supported The Well Health Center primary care clinic in Cactus and the Cactus Nazarene Ministry Center youth sports program. JBS has invested in housing in Cactus, and in 2018, the company established a program to help employees interested in purchasing a home in Moore County pay closing costs. A total of 86 current employees live in homes purchased as part of the program.