Sumter County, Ala. More than 100 people filled the Bell Conference Center on the Campus of the University of West Alabama as a company announced that it plans to build a new $20 million chip mill at the Port in Epes. That company is Global Energy Solutions LLC, which says it chose West Alabama because it has the right infrastructure in place.
“With the combination of the infrastructure that is there, the power, the gas, the rail, the port, and the interstate within 1.2 miles of the site, this is an incredible opportunity,” said Scot Corbett with GES.
The chip mill will be just the first phase. GES says it also plans to develop a pellet plant that will be a $120 million investment and also help in the development of the Epes Intermobile Facility. That's owned by Sumter County but will be specifically designed for the transportation of the chips and pellets produced at the plant.
"The number one cost in all the wood industry is transport. The closer you can have your fiber basket to your manufacturing plant the lower cost your fiber is. And you have in this area those essential assets," said Corbett.
This facility will also help with the creation of 100 to 150 full-time jobs and will also have more part-time jobs. Leaders say this is great news for the county which has a high unemployment rate.
"It's going to bring about a lot of changes for the town of Epes. But for the citizens and the county as a whole, because of the potential growth there, the job rate in the county as a whole and the employment is very high, and this is going to be one of the solutions for many problems," explained Epes Mayor Walter Porter.
The first phase of the facility is planned for the first quarter of 2015.