PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY BEN HILLYER / THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT

Archived Story

Natchez no longer fits Rentech’s strategy

Published 12:06am Sunday, March 4, 2012

In a routine annual report, Rentech said it has abandoned plans to bring a multi-million dollar coal-to-liquid plant to Natchez.

But Natchez Inc. Director Chandler Russ said it’s possible the company will still have some kind of development locally.

The report filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission says that the company has revised its project development strategy, abandoning developments in Natchez and two other cities.

The filing states the company’s revised strategy reflects its expectation that finance capital for first-of-a-kind energy projects will not be readily available until the technology can be proven commercially. The company’s Natchez project was a coal-to-liquid alternative energy refinery.

During the company’s 2011 fourth-quarter investor relations conference call, Rentech Chief Financial Officer Dan Cohrs echoed the SEC filing.

“We will not commit large sums to expensive project development,” Cohrs said. “Any commitments that we make beyond low-level, initial development expenses will be made only after financing is in place for any project. We expect to work with partners who will share the funding in development.”

The company will not be doing any more projects like Natchez, where Cohrs said the company “took on all of the development spending in order to try to meet government deadlines for financing.”

An assistant for Rentech Spokeswoman Julie Dawoodjee said she was not available to speak this week.

The deal

Rentech showed initial interest in locating in the county in 2005. After several years of industrial recruitment and communication between the company and the then-extant Adams County Economic Development Authority and several months of stop-and-go negotiations, Rentech purchased the former International Paper property in mid-2008. The announced plans were to develop the site as a coal-to-liquid alternative fuels production facility. A projected 400 jobs were expected to be created. Rentech initially projected a $1 to $2 billion investment in Adams County.

Before purchasing the IP property, Rentech had considered locating on the site of the former Belwood Country Club. When another company the county had been recruiting for the IP site lost its financing, the county offered the site to Rentech, former County Attorney Bob Latham said.

Although it is commonly understood that the county bought the property before selling it, Latham said that understanding is incorrect. The county did act as an agent in the deal, however.

  • Anonymous

    it was a joke years ago like i said,but some body got kickbacks and made money,you can bet that…

  • Anonymous

    Well knock me over with a feather.

  • Anonymous

    I was skeptical from day one about this “adventure”…. Natchezians have been sold a bag of goods once again…..  Natchez has a hard time competing in todays world market……. Many reasons why, and we all know our weaknesses……. Time to brush off our knees, and get back on the bike again… Hope and pray the industrial recruitments announced last summer don’t kick us to the curb like Rentech did…………. 

  • Anonymous

    Now what are we going to do with all of the coal we have here in Natchez??

  • Anonymous

    What a surprise.

  • Anonymous

    “Alternative energy sources” takes another hit. When will the D.C. dreamers admit they’re full of beans?

  • Anonymous

    I am an old IP  worker, I was there until the last day.  When this Rentech thing came along  I knew it was bogus.  Just like the tire company that got some real estate for a very low price now Rentech owns a good piece of industrial property.  If I could see it was bogus why couldn’t our leaders see it?  Natchez will never get off its knees if  this is the type of progress we make.  We are probably known as “The town that will give you a prime piece of real estate if you come in and act like you want to put in a business here.” 

  • Anonymous

    All I can do is picture that talking toddler-you know, the one in the commercials about stock trading- and the shot at the end of one of the commercials.
    “Okay,…Frank… let me show you my shocked face…..Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaattttttt!!!!!??????!!!!!????”
    Man, are we a bunch of gullable clod-hoppers, or what?
    “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.” Sage advice. Learn it, Mr Grennell and others.

  • Anonymous

    This won’t be the last of this.  Just wait until the recently announced “industries” back out also.  What will the politicans do?  No more backs to slap and hands to shake.

  • Anonymous

    No one ever thought Rentech was coming.  Peter Rinaldi predicted it from Day One.

  • Anonymous

    Enersteel seems to be the only of the multiple prospects that was “shovel ready” having already taken over their facility and added a good number of new employees.  The election process for leadership positions in Natchez/Adams has included election of many small business owners such as car washes, school teachers, self storage, t-shirt shops,  and a variety of other small businesses among the popular good old boys and girls.  These popularity contests have and will continue to lead to mediocrity within this community since the leaders have little or no credentials in high finance  to negotiate industrial size deals.  I hope during the upcoming city elections, that retro candidates are not re-elected into any positions since the financial legacies their earlier terms in office have left us on the outside looking in.  We need good candidates with a higher level of financial acumen.

  • http://www.natchezdemocrat.com khakirat

    The Rentech deal was just a dumb deal by plainly dumb lawyer and BOS that plainly gave the farm away just to make a dumb deal. A average business person could have done a more legal smart deal by putting deadlines of start and finish and if it was done by a deadline with operations and folks on the job it will automaticly go back to the county!!?? Yea, Russ the rentech bunch is going to stay locally as a realestate office to sell back to the county or whom ever this property for 10 to 20 times what they paid the county for it which is going to bite folks like you in the butt for your running out of property!! The older bunch is watching you and the others for we don’t want a multi millions dollars waste of taxpayer money as the Palestine Road industal park that was bought from the county for pennies per acre by individuals and this has got to not happen again ??!! Rentech made a fool of our county leaders and Natchez as well and is going to sock it to us if they can at all cost to the taxpayers!!!!!What a mess!!! Yea, folks knew this deal was down the drain way before our so call leaders of the community!!!

  • Anonymous

    “HERE WE GO AGAIN SAME OLE STUFF AGAIN.

  • Anonymous

    maybe rentech will build you a new recreation center as a way of offering pity for the way they stampeded and brainwashed your leaders with talks of pie in the sky.  they are well known in this tax-payer poor city as con-artists, flim-flammers, extortionists etc.  but like one of you said, it might look like an honest mistake but somebody got kick-back.
    from now on whoever makes your deals should sign off on it with their house, car, business etc like you do when you borrow from a lending institution.  let’em know that your tax dollars are no longer lendable without their personal collateral.
    p.s. i’m glad they had to back out before they did more harm. you’ve had an unpolluted environment for all these years, KEEP IT THAT WAY.
    someone asked what to do with the coal. SHIP it to one of tva’s dirty coal-fired plants before they get put out of operation. chicago just agreed to stop the use.

  • Anonymous

    You’re correct…local elections are more about a popularity contest rather than the most qualified candidate.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, I wonder…since Rentech is a publicly traded company…I wonder if the Mississippi Attorney General can get access to Rentech accounting records to see “WHO” got what out of this deal? It sure makes one think….

  • Anonymous

    This is yet another instance where there shouldn’t be announcements made before projects are finalized. It is a personal practice of mine regarding family accomplishments as well. Seems when you jump the gun and brag, you jinx it all.

  • http://www.natchezdemocrat.com khakirat

    Don’t whole your breathe to long cause I’ve heard these companies don’t have the money but want to get the money from the Adams county taxpayers but they will get a surprise to find we’re broke??!!

  • http://www.natchezdemocrat.com khakirat

    If so the taxpayers should demand all taxpayers money repaid with interest and another Ms. Attorney general  investigation from the top to the bottom??!!

  • Anonymous

    i did not mean to make it sound like i know anything about this company.  nashville has been bombarded with “get a grant”, borrow bonds,  etc all sceptical and gambling with tax-payer dollars if this scheme doesn’t work out the way it is presented  to the gullible city council and other “sure to make a profit groups”    a lawyer with financial expertise should be on the spot before any such heavy-duty decisions are made by those who want to attract job making opportunities to natchez and adams county and those who should do heavy duty consulting before taking the risk.

  • Anonymous

    Nice property purchased cheap then scrapped to pay for it. Wished I’d bought it and paid for it with the scrap metal left by IP..

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/H4R6KH4NKETUTOEJPOQ2KZKDTY Peter J.

    the deal was always a bad one. despite the warnings of watts and felter, grennell. lazarus and campbell took the advice of latham and woody allen to go ahead and execute a transfer of the ip landfill to the new authority. had the supervisors followed my warnings or those of watts and felter…the county would not be worrying about the expense or liability if rentech walks on its obligation.  peter rinaldi, now chairman of the authority, if you have any questions about this call me on my cell 601-431-2990