Allen: Rentech could bring 1,500 construction jobs

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 14, 2005

NATCHEZ &8212; The real economic impact of a coal gasification plant proposed for Adams County would be felt throughout the Miss-Lou long before 2010, the county&8217;s top economic development official said Wednesday.

Pending approval of state and federal incentives, Colorado-based fuel manufacturer Rentech plans to build a 200-job plant at the former Belwood Country Club site near the Natchez-Adams Port, completing construction by fall 2010, county and company officials announced Tuesday.

&8220;But there would be a peak of 1,500 construction jobs just building this thing in the four years leading up to its opening,&8221; said Woody Allen, chairman of the Economic Development Authority. &8220;So we&8217;re not just waiting until 2010 for 200 jobs.&8221;

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In addition, the 200 permanent jobs expected if the plant comes to town would have a total payroll of $9 million, a large boost to the area&8217;s economy, Allen added.

The plant would make diesel fuel from coal and petroleum coke shipped downriver from a Rentech&8217;s Illinois location announced earlier this week and would produce, as by-products, agricultural fertilizer and steam, according to company information.

A major market for the fuel, called Fischer-Tropsch fuel, is the U.S. Department of Defense, which Rentech&8217;s governmental relations director said is requesting 300,000 barrels a day of the fuel. Adams County&8217;s plant would produce 7,500 barrels a day of the fuel and 500 tons per day of fertilizer, company officials have said.

The plant would represent a $650 million to $750 million investment by Rentech and its financial partners, including Los Angeles-based MAG Capital and Credit Suisse First Boston.

Meanwhile, Allen reiterated that it&8217;s still too soon to tell when the EDA or Rentech might know if the company will receive state and federal incentives such as loan guarantees and other financial incentives.

But Allen said he county officials have made their best case to both state and federal officials already. &8220;So there&8217;s no need to write your congressman,&8221; Allen said. &8220;We&8217;ve made our case, and now we&8217;re just waiting to hear back from them. The main thing we (as a community) can do it show them we&8217;re excited about this project.&8221;