Jackson Co. to borrow millions for wood pellet facility at port

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Jackson County's Port Authority got the green light from supervisors Monday to borrow up to $24 million to help export wood pellets. Those pellets will be produced from a $115 million plant expected to go up in George County. The decision is expected to increase jobs, as well as help the local economy and give the port more exposure.

"We think it is a very good project and we're glad the supervisors did also," Jackson County Director Mark McAndrews said.

Port Director Mark McAndrews said the wood pellets produced in George County will be exported to Europe, starting that journey from an intricate setup at the Bayou Casotte terminal.

"The silos, railcars and truck unloading areas will be developed over on the undeveloped piece of ground. The product will be conveyed down here, which that is directly behind us, and the ship loader will run along the entire face of that wharf," McAndrews said.

To get the pellets to the terminal safely and without holding up traffic, several railroad crossings in Pascagoula and Moss Point will have to be relocated. Supervisors say that's good news for drivers.

"They won't have to wait on trains. Plus, with the everyday activities you have problems and with trains moving across the city during lunch time, work time and all that. So with one crossing that will greatly minimize the problem," Supervisor Melton Harris said.

Supervisors also see a lot of financial advantages to this venture.

"That will increase the economic development, the tonnage going through our port, and it will help with job creation," Supervisor John McKay said.

"A lot of people don't realize that Port of Pascagoula is the biggest ports on the coast of Mississippi. It is number 18 in the nation out of 120 or so ports. It is going to be something that will allow Jackson County, Mississippi to be an industrial anchor for the state," Supervisor Troy Ross said.

The export facility and wood pellet plant should be up and running by 2016. Green Circle Bio Energy Inc is the company that plans to build the wood pellet plant in George County. The goal is to export up to 500,000 tons of pellets per year overseas.

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