Are we ready for Rentech?

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 19, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; With new growth comes the inevitable growing pains.

That was part of the message local officials from Dubuque, Iowa, and East Dubuque, Ill., had for the contigent of leaders visiting last week from Adams County and Natchez.

Almost a year into the process of changing the East Dubuque Royster-Clark fertilizer plant into the first Rentech coal-to-liquid plant, leaders from the plant&8217;s surrounding area are wondering what they should be prepared for when the plant opens in 2009.

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Like the Adams County project, which plans to open in 2011, East Dubuque officials expect an addition of 200 jobs to the local economy.

&8220;The biggest question on local minds may be what happens to their cities when that many jobs come in,&8221; East Dubuque City Manager Al Griffith said Tuesday to Natchez and Adams County officials.

Merri Belange, county board chairman of Joe Davies County, where East Dubuque is located, said that the area is very excited about the Rentech Midwest project. But they are also looking at the ripple effect that will be created by the new jobs.

Griffith said that city and county leaders are looking at

everything from roads and infrastructure to schools and housing. Griffith even mentioned looking into how service stations in East Dubuque would be affected.

Natchez Mayor Phillip West said city officials are just beginning to look at the effects Rentech could have on the city.

&8220;The housing market has dwindled recently,&8221; West said after his trip to Iowa and Illinois.

Since last August when Hurricane Katrina ripped across the area, the Real Estate market has been booming.


a result, housing &8212; especially affordable housing &8212; has become increasingly difficult to find, West said.

Just recently, West said developers from Atlanta and California have met with city officials to discuss new housing developments for the city.

&8220;We are looking at both privately and federally funded housing,&8221; West said.

With the current real estate climate, finding land for housing is difficult.

&8220;We are looking at our options,&8221; West said.

Adams County Board of Supervisor&8217;s President Darryl Grennell said that the county needs to look at how the new plant will effect the county&8217;s roads.

&8220;I think we are going to have to do some studies of traffic flow on county roads,&8221; Grennell said.

Grennell said that other projects, like several industrial prospects for the former International Paper site and the bio-diesel plant at the former Ethyl Petroleum site, could add to the situation.

&8220;If this stuff comes to fruition, we are going to have to look at things to make improvements.&8221;