County takes out USDA loan to buy lans for wood pellet plant

LUCEDALE — George County supervisors have signed off on $1.3 million in U.S. Department of Agriculture loans to pay for land where a new wood pellet plant will go.

The Mississippi Press reports that the USDA rural development loans will be used to purchase the property that will expand the George County Industrial Park.

Green Circle Bio Energy Inc. announced in June that the $115-million plant will produce up to 500,000 tons of pellets per year.

Wood pellets are shipped overseas to European utilities plants to use as biomass energy that complies with their stricter sustainability guidelines. The pellets are made from a mix of soft and hard woods.

George County secured a $1 million loan with no interest and a $283,000 loan with 1 percent interest. They are both five-year notes.

“It took almost 10 months to get here,” Community development and communications director Ken Flanagan told supervisors yesterday. “With any luck, this fall we’ll get everyone together for a groundbreaking.”

The money will mostly be used to purchase the land, he said, and lease payments from the company will pay the note.

Any money left over from the loans will be used for road work.

Flanagan said the county will also be responsible for upgrading wastewater lines, and upgrading drinking water and process water to the site, among other infrastructure work.

That work will be funded through additional loans and grants that will be announced later, Flanagan said.

County leaders have said the mill will create 126 new full-time jobs in George County and others at the Port of Pascagoula in Jackson County.

The facility is expected to be operational by spring 2015.

Green Circle is wholly owned by the JCE Group, a privately owned international investment company headquartered in Gothenburg, Sweden.

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