A federal grant that will pay half the cost to extend infrastructure to a historic economic development project in Clinton was ceremoniously presented to city officials by Congressman Mike McIntyre Wednesday.
Federal grant funding in the amount of $1,758,150 was actually awarded to the city in June to construct water and sewer infrastructure to support the future Chemtex (Carolina Cellulosic Biofuels) plant. The biofuels project is anticipated to bring 65 jobs and more than $150 million in taxable investment to the area.
Congress appropriated the grant, and the United States Economic Development Administration (EDA) awarded it. On Wednesday, McIntyre, surrounded by Chemtex and city officials, signed the check making it official.
McIntyre said he was honored to be part of an award to a deserving project in Chemtex and an “active community” in Clinton. McIntyre said it is the hard working spirit of local governments and communities that bring about grant awards, especially those needed for large-scale projects in rural settings.
“I’m thrilled once again that the City of Clinton has showed that spirit,” the congressman stated. “This plant will have a great impact on the local economy in the City of Clinton. What this is all about is supporting our local economy and supporting local jobs. We’re so proud of the jobs being offered through this state-of-the-art facility.”
In addition to the 65 full-time jobs, the plant anticipates creating between 200-300 indirect jobs during the construction and initial start-up of the plant.
“This is the kind of economic opportunity we get excited about,” McIntyre said. “Every dollar is for the betterment of this area.”
“We thank you so much,” Clinton Mayor Pro Tem Maxine Harris said upon receiving the big check.
“This is a significant portion of the funding needed,” City manager Shawn Purvis added.
Congress appropriates monies and the EDA works on the ground to ensure those monies are “put to good use,” the congressman said. The EDA provides yearly funding and, as such, defines the Southeastern Economic Development Commission’s scope of work, with Southeastern working as an extension of the federal funding branch.
“We look forward to continuing work with the city, as well as Sampson County,” said Pamela Bostic, executive director of the SEDC.
City funds will make up the other half of the roughly $3.5 million endeavor.
The proposed refinery, expected to be located at a 40-acre site at Clinton Industrial Rail Park on Turkey Highway (N.C. 24), will make ethanol from plants other than corn, producing 20 million gallons per year of cellulosic biofuel from locally-grown energy grasses, agricultural residues and woody biomass, which will reduce levels of greenhouse emissions.
The plant, expected to be operational by 2016, would be the first commercial-scale, advanced biorefinery in the United States.
Paolo Carollo, executive vice president of North America Beta Renewables/Chemtex, was also on hand at the check presentation and similarly offered his thanks to all involved in securing the funds.
He said he was looking forward to locating to Clinton, which is slated to have the third such facility in the world and first nationally, with plants already located in Italy and Brazil.
“This has been a long process,” Carollo remarked. “We really hope to be located here in a couple years.”
Reach staff writer Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.