Belwood property reserved for Rentech, not Bollinger

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 4, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; Shipbuilder Bollinger and Rentech are both eyeing the same plot of land in Adams County, but the Economic Development Authority says it can accommodate both if need be.

The former Belwood Country Club site is Rentech&8217;s &8212; pending the incentives necessary to land that industry for good, EDA Chairman Woody Allen said.

But if Bollinger does decide to locate a shipbuilding plant in Natchez, the Economic Development Authority will find a site on which to locate it.

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&8220;If we have to acquire a site, we&8217;ll find one to make it work,&8221; Allen said.

Colorado-based Rentech announced late last year its plans to locate an $800 million coal gasification plant on the Belwood site if it receives needed state and federal incentives.

Given that the plant could bring 200 permanent jobs, and 1,500 jobs in construction, local officials are lobbying the Legislature for $15 million for site improvements.

Bollinger was also considering the Belwood site &8212; among sites in other locations besides Adams County.

But the absence of a contract for a particular series of Navy ships halted that plan, at least for now.

Allen said earlier this week his last contact with the company was an e-mail several months ago letting him know the project was still on hold.

But on Tuesday Gov. Haley Barbour said if the Navy decides to ask for and Congress votes to fund construction of a vessel now being leased from Australia, he feels confident it will be built in Natchez.