By Sid Riley
On Monday at the Agricultural Center, one of the Bush Administration officials, Ms. Kelly O’Brien, the Economic Development Administration Director of Public Affairs, and Florida Congressman Allen Boyd, presented a very special award to Jackson County, the Jackson County Development Council, and its Director, Bill Stanton. The award was accepted by Commissioner Chuck Lockey, who is Chairman of the Board of Commissioners, and James Elmore, who is Chairman of the JCDC Board of Directors.
Also in attendance were Congressman Heath Shuler of North Carolina, State Congresswoman Marti Coley, and representatives from most of the agencies and organizations that were involved in the Green Circle project.
Through the unique approaches that were conceived and developed by Mr. Stanton that resulted in the successful creation of the Green Circle BioEnergy pellet plant in Jackson County, the local organization has become nationally recognized.
Each year the most significant economic development projects across the nation are evaluated, and awards given to the most deserving. The local project was deemed to be the best "Rural Economic Development Project" in the nation for 2007. Mr. Stanton gave recognition to the community "team" that was formed to make the project happen. "It took the coordinated efforts of a lot of dedicated people who contributed their time and skills in order to create the combined package that eventually led to this plant choosing Jackson County", Stanton stated. "Everyone involved should share in this recognition".
The Green Circle BioEnergy plant is the largest wood pellet plant in the world. The $112,000,000 in capital investment made to construct this plant is one of the largest industrial capital investments ever made by private industry in Northwest Florida. The presence of the plant in Jackson County will benefit all of the county taxpayers, with an even more significant impact in the Alford and Cottondale communities. It is appropriate that the first boatload of locally produced pellets left the Panama City Port for Europe this week.