By Sid Riley
On Tuesday morning things were hopping in Campbellton. A caravan of political dignitaries, county executives, representatives from East Coast Ethanol, most of the area media, and many local citizens assembled in a show of enthusiasm for the proposed new $212 million dollar ethanol plant that would locate along Hwy 273 just south of town on a 296 acre site.
This plant would add over $100 million dollars annually to the local economy and would employ some 40 people. Through a multitude of grants sponsored by the Jackson County Development Council, headed by Bill Stanton, and the efforts of a community "team" which was organized for the project, East Coast Ethanol has decided to build on the proposed Campbellton site. It will be one of four identical plants the company has in planning. The Jackson County plant would be the second one built.
The plant would be designed to produce 110 million gallons of ethanol per year, consuming 40 million bushels of corn each year. The bulk of this corn will be railed to the plant from the corn belt area of the nation, converted to ethanol here, and then the fuel would be trucked to delivery depots around the state. It is cheaper to use rail transportation for the corn to the delivery area than it would be to truck all of the liquid ethanol here from the corn growing areas. Florida has mandated a significant blend of gasoline and ethanol be used in the state in the near future. That will create an increased demand for the product.
A bi-product of the ethanol process is the creation of distilled dried grain which can be used as a livestock feed supplement product. This plant would produce approximately 370,000 tons of these grains per year.
Mr. Leon Hatch, Director of the company’s Florida operations described the new plant to the attendees, and expressed his appreciation for the level of help and cooperation the Jackson County community has provided. "We had several options for where to locate this plant", he explained, "But the outstanding support and participation by the Jackson County organizations and community made the choice to locate here much easier".
East Coast Ethanol must yet meet certain financial commitments. They are in the process of registering the issuance of equity securities to the public. There will be 16, 910 units in the initial offering, with a minimum investment of one unit being $15,000. The total investment thus far of the 122 seed investors has been 9.8 million.
Most originators of this company are farmers and small businessmen from the South. The founders were one time tobacco farmers who desired to take their "buy out" money from their farms and reinvest those funds in "Small Town America" to fill an American need and to enable our nation to eliminate its independence on foreign oil. "That is the underlying business plan and motivation for our company", states Kenneth Dasher, one of the founders of the company.
Once all of the financial requirements are met, and required permitting is accomplished, the plants are projected to start construction in 2009, with construction taking 18 to 22 months for completion.