Wood pellets a great Christmas present for George County

GEORGE COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - As news spread that George County would become the home of a massive wood pellet operation, community leaders couldn't hid their enthusiasm.  George County Supervisor Kelly Wright and the CEO of Green Circle Bio Energy were all smiles as they shook hands to confirm their new wood pellet partnership. "I am excited. I am just ready for some groundbreaking and to see some steel put up in the air," supervisor Kelly Wright said.

Several hundred jobs are coming to George County.  Green Circle Bio Energy, Inc. announced Thursday the company will be building a $115 million wood pellet facility in the county.  The multimillion dollar deal is expected to boost the county's tax base and workforce.

George County supervisors said that's great news in this tough economy.  "This project is going to create somewhere around 120 something permanent jobs and about 300 to 400 indirect jobs," supervisor Henry Cochran said. "That has been my goal to create jobs for people here, so it is sort of like Christmas."

The company already owns the second largest wood pellet plant, which is located in Florida. The new facility is expected to go up at George County's Industrial Park.

Green Circle Bio Energy's CEO is MOrten Neraas.  "George County has a very good forestry industry, what we call the wood basket is very good here." Neraas said after signing the agreement.  "We also looked at logistics in the area, meaning how well the road and the port facility.  Pascagoula has a deep sea port and that is very important for us."

The Port of Pascagoula is part of this deal.  Its commissioners agreed to spend up to $30 million on a terminal to ship the wood pellets overseas as an energy source.

The company plans to produce 500,000 metric tons of pellets. Company officials said that is equivalent to 50 football fields, two stories high of wood pellets a year.  "Our hope is that we get up and running and that we can have a profitable operation over here, and make sure we make a good, valuable product," Neraas said.

The groundbreaking is expected for this fall and the plant should be up and running by 2015.   

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