Biofuels company announces 300 jobsPublished 12:06am Tuesday, March 27, 2012
NATCHEZ — Biofuels company KiOR announced Monday that it would locate its second Mississippi production facility in Natchez, a move that will create 300 jobs.
The facility will be built on a 120-acre tract of land comprised of the former Belwood Country Club. The company had originally announced the facility would be located in Newton.
The announcement was made during the company’s fourth-quarter investors’ conference call. CEO Fred Cannon said logistical, infrastructure and tax incentives made Natchez the logical choice to locate their facility.
“(With the) dock facilities in Natchez, you have access to marine transportation, which greatly reduces cost of transportation,” Cannon said. “If you get a barge, you can deliver a product virtually anywhere.”
The Natchez location has, “much better utilities such as natural gas, high voltage power already there at the site, so (there are) a lot of infrastructure savings for us,” Cannon said.
KiOR uses a biofuel production process that uses non-food stock, including wood chips. Cannon said Natchez’s proximity to wood production areas also played a role in the decision to locate there.
As part of the industrial recruitment process, the Adams County Board of Supervisors agreed to build a levee system on the Belwood site. KiOR, in return, is required to invest a minimum of $200 million in its Adams County operation.
Natchez Inc. Executive Director Chandler Russ said the company has an option to buy or lease the Belwood property and that Monday KiOR indicated it would be exercising its option on the land.
“I believe they will purchase,” Russ said. “For an investment that size, we will have a substantial incentive package.”
Cannon said the groundbreaking for the Natchez site should happen sometime after the company’s Columbus facility goes online, something he said should happen in the second half of the year.
Even though the company has decided to locate its second Mississippi facility in Natchez, KiOR is still inclined to locate in Newton if possible, Cannon said.
Russ characterized the announcement as “a big day for southwest Mississippi and the Miss-Lou area.”
“This substantial investment accomplishes two goals in our area — KiOR will be a direct addition to our growing fuels and chemical sectors and will use our area’s abundant wood basket resources, creating welcomed indirect jobs throughout the forestry industry,” Russ said.
“Needless to say, we are proud of KiOR’s decision to locate a major production facility in Adams County and look forward to seeing the company be highly successful here.”
Natchez Inc. Chairwoman Sue Stedman said the economic development board is excited to see the company commit to the area.
“We are also delighted that the company is locating on the Belwood site that will further utilize available land and infrastructure at the Natchez Port,” Stedman said.
“This operation also will also have a large indirect jobs impact by providing opportunities for our forest products industry.”
Cannon said the company was in discussions with the State of Mississippi for financing for its Natchez project, but he did not believe that would be the primary financing of the project.
KiOR announced in 2010 it would build five biofuel production facilities in Mississippi. The initial announcement stated that the first three facilities would be in Columbus, Newton and southwest Mississippi. Though KiOR had previously expressed some interest in a site near Bude, Russ said it was his understanding that the company had never fully committed to that site.
The company has a demonstration facility in Houston that is currently producing some fuel.