CAMPBELL COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) — State and local leaders say there’s good news for people in Campbell County looking for work as “one of the nation’s largest poultry processing plants” settles in Caryville.

It’s been over four months since the chicken processing plant known as “George’s Prepared Foods” shuttered its doors. That plant is now under new management thanks to Georgia-based company Gold Creek Foods (GCF).

“They [Gold Creek Foods] have a sizable investment, millions of dollars they’ve invested into the community and into, as far as I’m concerned, into the people,” said Campbell County Mayor Jack Lynch.

According to a press release, Gold Creek Foods aims to create 218 jobs in Caryville. That goal comes at a time when people have been forced to look for work outside their community.

“It’s always a very stressful time when people lose their jobs,” said Lynch. “The uncertainty of it all, but we’re trying to tell people we have jobs in town.”

With those jobs back in town, industry leaders hope to tap into a ready-made workforce.

“They may need to be retrained in some of their process and formation of what they’re doing, but they [Gold Creek Foods] saw an opportunity to bring those people back to work to better their families and continue to grow,” explained Gary Human, East Tennessee Regional Director of Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.

Hiring at GCF has started. The company hopes to reach full capacity by February 2023. If GCF meets its 218-employee goal, Lynch says that would make the plant the county’s second-largest employer, with the hospital being the largest county employer.

GCF is also expected to invest 15 million dollars to get the existing facility ready for poultry production.