Two new companies to bring area 60 jobsPublished 12:10am Thursday, April 19, 2012
NATCHEZ — Two companies announced a partnership Wednesday that will invest $34 million and create 60 jobs in Adams County. The partner companies will mine and process sand to be used by energy companies employing the hydraulic fracturing process.
Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant announced at the ceremony on the Natchez bluff the formation of a partnership between Blain Sand and Gravel, a Mississippi company that mines raw materials and produces washed and processed materials, and Fores North America, a Canadian company that produces chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing process. The partnership will operate in Adams County, where Blain already has a sand and gravel operation.
The governor said bringing this partnership to Mississippi is part of the state’s “all-of-the-above” energy policy.
“Believe me, this is a game-changer in the energy industry,” Bryant said.
“I am proud these two companies, one a long-standing one in Mississippi and the other a new corporate citizen, are creating products that are contributing to domestic oil and natural gas production here in Mississippi and the Southeast and beyond.”
Blain will form Magnolia Frac Sand LLC and Fores will form Fores Frac Sand LLC. Magnolia will mine the sand and Fores will process it so it can be used in the fracking process.
After the fracking sand is produced, a second Fores company, Fores Resin Coating LLC, will take some of the sand and give it a special resin coating so it can be used under higher pressure and at deeper depths.
Hydraulic fracking is a process that creates fractures in rock to release natural gas and petroleum that could not otherwise be captured by using pressurized water, sand and chemicals.
Both companies will create approximately 30 jobs, and Blain will invest $7 million in the area while Fores will invest $27 million, Bryant said.
Blain Sand and Gravel President Lee Stevens said the company was excited to be expanding its presence in southwest Mississippi. The company has heretofore specialized in road construction, asphalt paving and aggregate construction in the state.
“The support (we have received) has been great, and we truly appreciate everyone’s effort,” he said. “Construction is scheduled to begin the first of May, and information on how to apply will be available through the Win Job Centers.”
Recruiting and infrastructure
Fores North America Vice President of Business Development Tony Little said Adams County was a logical place to bring the company when the entire picture was considered.
“We were looking for a place that had frac sand, and a place that was easy to work, with good logistics to get in and out — mostly out — and the logistics through the (Natchez-Adams County) port are really good,” Little said.
Bryant said Mississippi has been rated as the best state in which to conduct energy business, and Little said that was one of the appealing factors for the area.
“We wanted to go somewhere where we weren’t going to get bogged down in discussions with the government, and both locally and at the state level, that was the case here,” he said.
Natchez Inc. Executive Director Chandler Russ said the facilities where the companies will produce the frac sand will be on State Park Road near its intersection with U.S. 84. Fores will also build a loading and unloading facility at the Natchez-Adams County Port on a tract of land known as lot 1, the northernmost portion of property inside the port’s ring levee.
The Fores investment in the Natchez-Adams County Port will be worth approximately $2 million, Russ said.
Bryant said the Mississippi Development Authority will provide $264,000 for upgrades to rail service and $250,000 for upgrades to an existing access road as part of an economic development package.
Little said the Fores Frac Sand project should be operating this year.
“We asked for it to be ready by October of this year, and that is doable,” he said.
The resin portion of the Fores operation should be open in approximately a year, Little said.
Adams County Board of Supervisors President Darryl Grennell said the supervisors provided a 10-percent match for engineering fees toward the development of the project, and that they had crafted a tax abatement package as well.
Stevens said he was glad to be a part of creating jobs in Mississippi.
“We have received the utmost support and help from the Mississippi Development Authority, the Adams County Board of Supervisors, the City of Natchez, the Natchez-Adams County Port Authority, Southeastern Gas Transmission and last but not least, Natchez Inc.,” he said.
Natchez Inc. Chairwoman Sue Stedman she was glad she no longer had to keep the announcement a secret, and she was pleased a local company was involved.
“This is particularly rewarding because this opportunity sprang from a company that was already here, and a big part of our job at Natchez Inc. is to make our existing industry grow,” Stedman said.
As the companies expand their businesses, they can depend on the community, Grennell said.
“This company has selected the right community in this endeavor, and we promise you this community will support you in this endeavor,” he said.
The governor said community cooperation at both government and private levels will be needed for future development.
“It takes all of you working together,” Bryant said. “It is the local chamber of commerce, the mayors and boards of supervisors that really bring this together. Today’s announcement is very important.”
Natchez Mayor Jake Middleton presented Little and Stevens with keys to the city.
“Once you take these, you’re here,” he said.