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County to begin work on project for Elevance

Published 11:17pm Tuesday, February 19, 2013

NATCHEZ — Local economic development officials project that by April Adams County will begin advertising for bids for port improvement construction related to the Elevance project.

Elevance has long-term plans to convert the former Delta Biofuels property into a biorefinery, and in December company officials said approximately $1 million had already been spent in improvements to the facility. As the project moves forward, the company plans to use rail, barge and truck traffic to move its products from the port.

Parts of those plans include the use of a liquid loading dock, which Adams County has committed to building. Natchez Inc. Executive Director Chandler Russ said Elevance should begin construction on its end of the project in the next six months, which means the county’s construction should begin sometime shortly before that.

“Our construction needs to be in conjunction with them, meaning that basically by the time they are done with their construction, we need to be done with ours so they can utilize the facilities,” he said.

Russ said he believes the county will have to solicit bids in April, award the bid in May or June and begin construction shortly thereafter.

The estimated cost for the liquid loading dock is $4 million, though that will ultimately depend on the bids submitted.

The county has a $2 million grant that will not have to be paid back for the dock project, Russ said, and a zero-percent interest, $2.15 million loan from the Mississippi Development Authority.

Whatever costs are not covered by those funds will have to be bonded, he said.

The cost of the payments on the loan will be covered by the company’s fee-in-lieu agreement with the county, Russ said.

“The fee-in-lieu payments will cover all the debt service for that, so it is not coming out of the general fund or anything along those lines,” he said.

Adams County Supervisors President Darryl Grennell said a small portion of the Government Fleet Road extension project — which was an important part of the Elevance recruitment — will also be placed under whatever bond financing the county has to take for the project.

“(The road construction) is all relevant to the Elevance project because it serves as a corridor for them into that industrial park,” Grennell said. “It is serving the entire port industrial park, but it was one of the major factors for Elevance to bring it to fruition.”

Elevance has committed to bringing 165 permanent jobs to Adams County.