By: Sid Riley
June 5, 2008
Local officials and citizens have realized for several months that the Green Circle Bio Energy Wood Pellet Plant Project, which has just completed construction of a $116,000,000 plant near Steel City on highway 231 south of Cottondale, was unique in its conception, coordination, and organization. Now, the project has won one of the nations most prestigious economic development awards, the coveted National Rural Economic Development Award for 2008.
The plant which is now completed and has begun operation will have a formal opening ceremony next Tuesday, June 10, at the plant site. The plant is the largest wood pellet producing plant in the world, and will provide over $65,000,000 per year in exported value for the United States as its products are shipped to Europe for use in their power generation. Locally, it will add approximately $700,000 per year to the county school and ad valorem tax base.
The company was lured to Jackson County through the rigorous efforts of the Jackson County Development Council under the leadership of JCDC Director, Bill Stanton. He organized a local "Economic Development Team" that was comprised of officials and citizens needed to accomplish all of the necessary steps for the completion of the "development package" that was formed to entice the company to choose Jackson County over several alternate locations.
The award recognizes the unique composition of the project design which involved a complex interaction of the business sector, regional partners, as well as local, state, and federal government agencies. The project involved $7,516,000 in government investments, $104,100,000 in private sector investments, and enterprise zone incentives of $5,034,000, for a total of $116,650,000.
The project previously won the state economic development award in excellence by being recognized as the "Deal of the Year" in Florida. The Apalachee Regional Planning Council then nominated the JCDC and the project for the national "Award for Excellence in Economic Development". Accompanying the nomination was a letter of recommendation from "Florida’s Great Northwest". On Tuesday afternoon the JCDC was notified of their selection for the award.
The JCDC has been tremendously effective in bringing much needed industry to our county. From their presence and professional work our county workforce now has the opportunity to work at several new businesses including Family Dollar Distribution Center, Old Castle Concrete Pre-Form, Arizona Chemical, Rex Lumber expansion, and more recently Springs Bottling, and now Green Circle Bio-Energy.
To Bill Stanton, the J.C.D.C., and all of those who assisted in the project we say "Congratulations and Thank You".