Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Ware County to Get 75 New Jobs

The local job market got a boost Wednesday morning after Gov. Sonny Perdue announced RWE Innogy of Germany and BMC of Sweden will build a bioenergy production plant in Waycross.

Approximately 75 jobs are expected to created with the new facility, which will produce wood pellets for fuel. Nearly $150 million will be invested into the venture.

Operating as Georgia BioMass, LLC, the new will be located on a 300-acre site donated by the Okefenokee Area Development Authority (OADA). Production is scheduled to begin in the first quarter of 2011.

Future job opportunities will be coordinated through the Georgia Department of Labor’s Waycross office.

Officials say Waycross was chosen due to the area’s abundance of forests necessary to sustain wood pellet production.

“Our region is attractive to companies in the renewable energy industry as a result of the area’s accessibility to shipping ports and railways, existing infrastructure, and low-cost operating levels,” said Regina Morgan, Executive Director of the Okefenokee Area Development Authority. “This community proudly welcomes Georgia BioMass, and looks forward to a fruitful relationship for years to come.”

BMC will develop the plant, expected to turn out 750,000 tons of wood products annually, while RWE will be the key investor.

“The plentiful resources in Ware County, such as its abundant forest assets and strategic railroad and highway access to Georgia’s deepwater ports, make it an ideal location for this renewable energy facility,” Perdue said. “We welcome RWE and BMC to Georgia and look forward to the positive impact the Waycross plant will have for the state’s forestry sector, this community and the surrounding region.”

RWE, a leading energy production utility in Europe, is working with BMC to develop the production facility to export wood pellets to Europe to meet growing demand for energy. RWE and BMC plan to create the world’s largest renewable energy capacity of wood pellets produced at the new facility.

“With its vast forest lands, Georgia is the ideal partner for us in respect to biomass,” said Fritz Vahrenholt, CEO of RWE Innogy. “What has convinced us in particular is the high standard of sustainability applied by the state in planting and harvesting forests.”

“We are very excited about having formed this close cooperation with RWE, to develop a world-class biomass facility to provide the power industry with a tailored pellet with ‘coal like’ characteristics for efficient conversion to electricity,” said BMC founder and managing partner Mats Lindstrand. “The location in Waycross Georgia is perfect for us and we feel very welcomed in the local community.”

Identified as one of Georgia’s strategic industries, the renewable energy sector is poised for significant growth in the state. Businesses in this industry can leverage competitive assets offered by the Georgia Center of Innovation for Energy, a vital and central resource for companies seeking an advantage in the production of renewable energy and alternative fuels in Georgia.

“Businesses in the bioenergy sector are poised for great success in Georgia,” said Jill Stuckey, director of the Georgia Center of Innovation for Energy. “The state’s logistical advantages, wealth of forest resources and the innovative research being done at Georgia’s universities and prime research facilities make Georgia a strategic location for bioenergy projects.”

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