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High Tech Chemical Company Moving To Natchez

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 07 Jun 2011 06:36pm | comments
Elevance CEO K’Lynn Johnson

Construction crews will soon be moving into a Natchez biofuels plant to convert it into a high tech renewable chemical producer. M-P-B's Jeffrey Hess reports that Illinois-based Elevance Renewable Sciences announced their plans open their first North American chemical plant Tuesday.

Elevance produces chemical ingredients for personal care products, detergents, plastics and lubricants from renewable ingredients.

Elevance C-E-O K'Lynn Johnson says she chose Natchez in part because of an agreement by state and local officials to help upgrade the Natchez port to specially handle the chemicals.

"The commitment to ensure that the port was a state of the art port paired with the state's support made a huge difference in our decision. There are a lot of good sites around the river and the Gulf coast. But it was the partnership that the communities brought together that tilted it to say that this was the right place to be," Johnson said.

The state is also loaning the company 25-million dollars to start up...in exchange, Elevance says it will invest 225-million dollars to convert an existing biofuels plant to fit their needs.

Elevance also promises to create 165 long-term jobs.

One of those jobs is going to Gary Caston, who was a chemical operator at the existing plant and has been picked up by Elevance.

"We enjoyed working there. We put out and did a good job with Delta Biofuel and I believe Elevance employers have seen our performance and everything. So none of us was really disappointed or scared or anything like that," Caston said.

The unemployment rate in Adams County is over 9-percent and Natchez Mayor Jake Middleton says the Elevance decision could generate more interest from other high-tech manufacturers.

"We have got four-lane highways into here. We are going to keep our rail open. And the river, of course, is the greatest resource we have. So we have got all the right tools to get it done," Middleton said.

The company plans to start converting the facility later this year...but it will take five years to completely finish the plant construction.

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Elevance CEO K’Lynn Johnson


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