Ripple effects of Dexter Tyson plant shutdown being felt across southeast Mo.

When one of Stoddard County's largest employers closed its doors, it left hundreds of people without a job right before the holidays
Published: Nov. 15, 2023 at 6:00 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 15, 2023 at 6:12 PM CST
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STODDARD COUNTY, Mo. (KFVS) - When one of Stoddard County’s largest employers closed its doors one month ago, it left hundreds of people without a job right before the Holidays.

A month later, Tyson’s closure is being felt across southeast Missouri as local leaders fight to reopen the facility.

Friday, October 1 is a day hundreds of people in Stoddard County won’t forget. Around 700 people were laid off when Tyson’s Dexter operation closed.

The company said in a statement the decision to close the Dexter plant, along with plants in North Little Rock, Arkansas; Corydon, Indiana; and Noel, Missouri was to lower costs.

Now, the closure has caused a ripple effect through Dexter and surrounding communities.

The chicken houses on Preston Arnold’s farm in Sikeston have been empty since Tyson closed.

“This is not just a situation where we can walk off and get another job to pay our bills,” said Arnold.

Arnold has raised chickens for Tyson for the past 4-and-a-half years.

With no other local company to take his birds, his business can’t function.

“You got a multi-million dollar operation that is not good for anything but the land it sits on,” said Arnold.

With the future of Arnold’s farm up in the air, he’s trying to avoid going under.

“We have to take out multi-million-dollar loans to get into this business. To get those loans we have to put up collateral, so if we don’t get an integrator in here within the next year we stand a chance of losing everything we’ve got.”

Over in Dexter, City Manager David Wyman said most of the Tyson plant employees found work in the surrounding area, but numerous businesses in town aren’t as fortunate.

He said they’re suffering since much of their work involved the chicken processor.

“Electricians that spent a lot of their time working at the Tyson plant, well, they aren’t able to anymore. Plumbers that would work down there to keep their pipes opened up, you got convenience stores that were opened 24 hours a day because they were working 24 hours a day and they would do really good business at shift change and that’s all gone,” said Wyman.

But the fight to save the facility, and help those businesses isn’t over.

Wyman said the city is working to find a company to move into the facility on County Road 717.

“We have a company that is slightly different type of industry and would not employ as many people but it would utilize all the real estate down there, so I know that that company and Tyson have been talking and they are close but as you can imagine it is a very complicated deal,” he said.

Meanwhile, back in Sikeston on Preston Arnold’s farm, he’s being proactive trying to find ways to help his situation.

“I’ve reached out to high politicians, local politicians and tried to get some assistance with our FSA loans and I really haven’t heard anything about that that would help us out dramatically and then we need assistance from the government with our taxes with getting another integrator in here to take us over,” said Arnold.