Firm near deal on Riverside

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 17, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; Phoenix Eco. Inc. CEO John Rivera said he is close to signing a deal with a Michigan-based company to buy the former Riverside Central building for use as a plant making biodiesel fuel from raw soybeans.

&8220;We&8217;re waiting for a well to be moved from the site &8230; so title insurance can be issued,&8221; he said.

But meanwhile, Rivera said, he has signed a deal with Yates Construction Co. to renovate the building to function as a biodiesel plant. Yates, he said, has already hired the subcontractors necessary to do the job.

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&8220;We should be fully operational in six months,&8221; Rivera said. &8220;We&8217;re looking forward to getting started.&8221;

Rivera said he hopes to start hiring in 60 days. According to General Manager Jerry Brent, the majority of those hired, the plant&8217;s system operators, will need only a high school diploma and will be trained by the company.

Skilled maintenance and electrical workers and welders will also be needed, as will several people for supervisors&8217; positions. Brent said the plant&8217;s average wage has not yet been determined.

Rivera is also CEO of TR America, a tire recycling company that operates a facility in Port Gibson.