From staff reports

Carrollton will be among seven Georgia cities to participate in a $3.5 million campaign by a poultry processor to help those towns respond to the pandemic and invest in their future.

The Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. program, called “Hometown Strong,” was announced Thursday. Company officials said it is part of a $20 million national investment to help employees in the states where they have a presence, helping ensure their job security during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pilgrim’s Pride operates a facility in Carrollton located 616 Kingsbridge Road.

It was not immediately clear how the program will be administered locally. Representatives of Carroll Tomorrow were aware of the announcement but had no details on how the funds would be distributed among the cities.

Along with Carrollton, the towns that will be part of the project are Athens, Canton, Douglas (in Coffee County), Elberton, Ellijay, and Gainesville.

The announcement said that Pilgrim’s will partner with officials in the cities “to identify investment projects that strengthen these hometowns where the company’s team members live and work.”

Pilgrim’s Pride is a multi-national food company and one of the largest chicken producers in the United States. It is headquartered in Greeley, Colorado, and in 2017 reported revenue of $10.7 billion.

“We take great pride in feeding American families every day,” Fabio Sandri, Pilgrim’s Interim CEO said in the announcement. “We also recognize our responsibility to do more than just produce food within our communities. Hometown Strong is our way of demonstrating our commitment to the places we call home, and we are listening to local leaders to determine where help is needed most.”

In a statement released from his office, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said he was “grateful” for Pilgrim’s investment “to provide these critical relief funds to communities across the Peach State.”

Pilgrim’s has a significant presence in Georgia, employing more than 7,000 people and paying local growers more than $152 million each year to support its facilities in the state, according to the release. The company has an annual payroll in Georgia of more than $204 million and has contributed nearly $270 million in capital investments over the last five years.

The company said the $20 million Hometown Strong project will include donations to alleviate food insecurity, strengthen long-term community infrastructure and well-being, and support COVID-19 emergency response and relief efforts. All funds will be committed by the end of the year.