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Taylor County, Florida | Perry News-Herald

  • August 15th, 2014

From Perry News-Herald, August 15, 2014

Local efforts to induce the West Palm Beach-based BioNitrogen Corp. to build a $220 million plant in Taylor County are continuing with the Perry City Council working to finalize a portion of its incentive package.

The council held the first reading this week of a modified ordinance which would allow the city to enter into agreements with BioNitrogen and a bank for the city to provide collateral guaranty on a $5 million line of credit taken out by the company for work on the proposed plant here. 
 A second and final reading of the ordinance is set for the council’s meetingon Tuesday, Aug. 26. 
 The council held the first reading of a similar ordinance last month, but several changes to the language necessitated a second first reading, City Manager Bob Brown said.

In April, the council unanimously agreed to move forward with a series of proposed economic incentives for BioNitrogen, including the line of credit.

The primary change in the new version of the ordinance read Tuesday replaces Regions Bank with Deutsche Bank as the lender.

According to company officials, Deutsche Bank is prepared to purchase a series of industry revenue bonds issued by the Taylor County Development Authority (TCDA) once the local project reaches a certain point in its development.

The city-guaranteed line of credit would provide financing assistance up to that point, with funding for civil engineering work, traffic studies and other site specific work at the proposed property, a 55- acre parcel on Foley Road (CR 30) owned by Foley Timber and Land Co. across from Georgia-Pacific’s Foley Cellulose Mill.

According to Brown, the company would turn in invoices which would have to be approved by the city before payment is made through the line of credit. The funds will only be available for site work connected to the proposed Perry site.

Brown noted that the proposed ordinance authorizes the city to enter into the agreements, but does not compel it to do so. The city charter requires an ordinance be passed for the city to take out a loan, and although in this case the city would not be taking out the loan itself but rather serving as collateral on the line of credit, it was felt an ordinance was still needed, he added.

As for the industry revenue bonds, they are an economic development tool which must be issued by a government or quasi- government agency, Brown said.

This summer, the TCDA board agreed to issue $300 million in industry revenue bonds, a decision ratified by the Taylor County Commission.

“The TCDA has no liability (in issuing the bonds),” Brown said, adding that the agency is serving as a “conduit” for the bonds.

“It’s typical to explore bond options when you are working with a company looking to expand or build a new facility,” TCDA Director Scott Frederick said. “Industry revenue bonds can assist the company you’re trying to induce to your location. They are an economic development tool handed down by the federal government to the states, with each state getting a certain allocation.”

Brown noted that this is not the first time industry revenue bonds have been issued locally, as they were used around 1980 for the construction of the then Tom’s Food Plant (now owned by Synder’s-Lance). Speaking more generally about the proposed BioNitrogen plant, Frederick said he is enthused about the project as well as its potential effect on economic developmentefforts moving forward. “We are experiencing unprecedented collaboration between the private sector, the TCDA, the city and thecounty,” Frederick said. “This project is serving as a focus to galvanize public support here in Taylor County. In other places, we’re sensing somemomentum going forward.” According to company officials, BioNitrogen plans to utilize patented technology to convert biomass into urea fertilizer at a series of plants, including potentially one in Taylor County. In total, the company is looking at five sites in Florida and five in Louisiana. In May, the company held a ribbon cutting ceremony at Clewiston in Hendry County for its first plant. According to reports, construction is expected to begin on that plant before the end of theyear. 
 BioNitrogen’s proposedplant here is projected to create 52-55 manufacturing jobs in Taylor County with an average starting salary of $38,000 plus benefits. The total investment here has been estimated to be between $100 million and $220 million.

 

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