LITTLE ROCK — Poultry processor Peco Foods said Wednesday it will spend $13.8 million to expand two plants in Independence County and 300 jobs, bringing its total employment in the county to 866.

The Tuscaloosa, Ala.-based company, the eighth largest poultry processor in the U.S., said it will expand a processing plant in Batesville and a feed mill in Newark. It made the announcement at a news conference in Batesville.

The state provided incentives for the project that included a $485,000 community development block grant for construction of a parking lot and water filtration system; a 2 percent payroll tax credit for jobs added in the next five years; sales tax refunds on building material,s machinery and equipment associated with the expansion; and training assistance.

"Peco Foods’ expansion into Arkansas was an excellent decision for us and we look forward to a long and successful partnership with the City of Batesville and the state," Mark Hickman, president and chief executive officer of Peco Foods, said in a news release.

Gov. Mike Beebe said the expansion illustrates northeastern Arkansas’ growing influence in the food-processing sector.

"Peco’s success will draw even more interest in Batesville, both as a community and as the home of an effective work force," Beebe said.