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United Kingdom-based renewable fuels company Velocys PLC will build its first U.S. biorefinery in Natchez, citing an attractive regulatory and tax regime and the abundant local supply at a low cost among its benefits.
Velocys announced on Friday it signed a site option agreement with Adams County, where it will build a plant that will convert wood products into biodiesel and jet fuel. The 100-acre site is located on River Terminal Road near L.E. Barry Road, about a mile from the Mississippi River, officials said.
Scott Slover, attorney for the Board of Supervisors of Adams County, said the existing industry in Natchez is also a good fit for the plant thanks to its history supporting the city’s former International Paper mill, which closed in 2003.
According to the Mississippi Business Journal, the mill opened in Natchez in 1950, and its closure left 640 employees without jobs and devastated the local economy.
“Since then, wood products haven’t had a good market,” Slover said. ” … (This will) fill a void that we had due to the previous plant closing.”
The biorefinery will bring 40 jobs into the area, some with salaries around $100,000, Slover said.
The company says they were also offered economic development incentives from Adams County estimated to be worth about $42 million, the statement said.
Adams County has also granted commitments for land and site upgrades worth around $4 million for the 100-acre site, Velocys said, and $1 million site upgrade commitments from local utility suppliers.
The project could qualify for more incentives worth up to $15 million through Mississippi’s Advantage Jobs Act and other tax incentives, the company said.
Velocys had analyzed 12 possible sites in four states, but factors like Adams County’s availability of land; a local workforce skilled in the forestry industry; and supporting infrastructure drew them to the site.
Adams County Board of Supervisors president Mike Lazarus has echoed how the area contributes to Velocys’ success and vice versa.
“These quality jobs, significant investment and purchases of area forestry products will have a huge and meaningful impact on our area and local economy,” Lazarus said in a statement.