Green Circle Bio Energy’s new plant south of Cottondale has now gone "full circle". It has gone from concept, to organization, to construction, to completion……all in twelve months. At a formal meeting on Tuesday morning an array of dignitaries and citizens assembled for the opening ceremony for the massive plant.
The program featured state officials whose agencies played a part in the complex coordination that took place in order to bring the Swedish manufacturer to our area and to accomplish all of the permitting and funding assistance that was required in the $116,000,000 project, as well as local elected officials and company management.
Kresha Rice, Deputy Director of the State Office of Tourism and Trade was the first speaker introduced by program emcee, Susan Emrich. Next, Stephen Adams one of the Directors of the State Department of Environmental Protection spoke about the importance worldwide for the reduction of harmful environmental emissions, which the wood pellets would help reduce.
Then Ray Sansom, Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives spoke about the project being a great example of the private sector bonding with local and state representatives, officials and agencies to work for the common good. He also praised the local economic development team which was headed by JCDC Director Bill Stanton for the great work they did in bringing the project to Florida.
Chuck Lockey, Chairman of the Jackson County Board of Commissioners welcomed everyone to Jackson County, recognized his fellow Commissioners and County Manager, and then spoke briefly on the role the Commission played in creating the project. "Jackson County’s investment in this project was $2,000,000, and I am proud to state that their annual contribution to the county ad valorem tax roll will be over $700,000 per year. That is a very wise investment by my measurement", he concluded.
The President and CEO of Green Circle Bio Energy, Olaf Roed then spoke about how great the cooperation, assistance, and support from all of the people involved in the project had been, and how amazing it was that in twelve months the project went from a few shovels of dirt at a ground breaking ceremony to a completion ribbon cutting ceremony. "What was only a concept in a few peoples mind three years ago is today a reality", he proclaimed.
Then J. Christer Ericsson, Founder and Owner of JCE Group, the parent company of Green Circle Bio Energy addressed the group. He told how when the idea of locating a pellet plant in Florida was first brought to him, he did not believe any of Florida was forested enough to justify such a venture. Then after visiting the area and seeing the potential he became convinced. He told how he had begun in the oil industry in the North Atlantic, and had initially had little concern about alternative sources of energy. "However, today I see things differently since today I am in the wood pellet business and in the wind turbine industry", he quipped. "Two and a half tons of wood pellets contains the same amount of energy as one ton of oil," he explained.
After the ribbon cutting the attendees were treated to a lunch buffet and a tour of the huge, modern plant. To all who helped make this happen in our community the Jackson County Times gives a resounding "Well Done!"