Enviva to hold reception, talk Sampson project

A major industry is establishing its footprint in northern Sampson County and, in an effort to educate the public on the company and its proposed wood pellet plant, Enviva representatives are teaming with local officials to give residents a sneak peak into the local project that is bringing more than $100 million and 80 jobs here.

The Enviva Preview and Reception is slated for 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 17, at Sampson Community College. The event is jointly sponsored by Enviva, Sampson County Economic Development Commission and the community college.

Enviva, a major producer and exporter of wood pellets for energy generation, is currently investing approximately $107 million through the Enviva Pellets Sampson LLC project, which will see a 500,000 metric ton wood pellet manufacturing facility constructed on a 200-acre site adjacent to I-40’s Exit 355.

Once complete, the facility will directly employ 79 full-time workers and indirectly support over 150 additional jobs in the supply chain.

At the upcoming preview, Enviva representatives will present an overview of the company and the Sampson County project, as well as offer members of the community the opportunity to ask any questions they may have. specifically, the event will include brief presentations by Enviva representatives and detailed information for the community about both the company and the project now under development. That will be followed by a dessert reception and Q&A session with Enviva staff.

Enviva manufactures wood pellets at six facilities located across the South, using sustainable practices and processes that keep American forests healthy and abundant, company officials said. It sells wood pellets to coal-fired electricity generating plants, which reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases and toxic chemicals by converting to wood pellets as fuel.

Enviva broke ground at the site earlier this year and work is ongoing.

The Sampson Board of Commissioners has taken many steps to attract Enviva to northern Sampson, including offering performance-based incentives to the company back in September 2013 and extending an option on the land in hopes the project would be realized. In recent months, a bid was also approved by the board to construct an elevated water storage tank at I-40 and N.C. 403 to not only serve Enviva and provide fire protection for the company, but accommodate future development along the interchange.

As part of the estimated $1.8 million water infrastructure project, approximately 5,500 linear feet of 12-inch water main will be extended from the intersection of N.C. 403 and Burch Road to Enviva, and a 500,000-gallon elevated water storage tank built. Of the $1.8 million, less than $40,000 will come from county coffers.

The 12-inch water main to connect the tank to the existing Sampson County water system is expected to be bid in late spring or early summer this year. The size of the tank and the sheer length of the line, at a mile long, offers benefits beyond Enviva, project designers said.

John Swope, executive director of the Sampson Economic Development Commission, said Enviva is at the heart of what county officials hope will be a boom in activity, development and ultimately tax base at I-40.

“When you have an interstate interchange, that’s an asset. Especially in rural counties, interstate exits are great things,” Swope has said. “Industries want to be as close as they can to an interstate, so it’s an asset that needs to be maximized not just for Sampson County but in this case — that (Exit 355) site is so close to Wayne and Duplin — there will be jobs coming in from all three counties or more.”

To RSVP for the Enviva event, call Morgan Pitts at 301-892-1686 or email morgan.pitts@envivabiomass.com.