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Sunday, December 21, 2014, 4:46 a.m.
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$130 million wood pellet plant set for Pine Bluff

By Gavin Lesnick

This article was published August 20, 2014 at 9:11 a.m.

Highland Pellets will open a $130 million plant in Pine Bluff, creating at least 35 jobs, the Arkansas Economic Development Commission said Wednesday.

The wood pellet facility will annually create 500,000 metric tons of wood pellets, which are a "sustainably sourced feedstock for use by European industrial utilities to lower their carbon footprint and provide sustainable base load power," the commission said in a statement.

Groundbreaking is set for October at Pine Bluff's Jefferson Industrial Park, with the plant to begin shipping its product in March 2016.

“This is another great example of matching Arkansas’s workforce and resources with a company that sees the potential for success here,” Gov. Mike Beebe said in a statement. “It speaks highly of southeast Arkansas that the business-savvy leaders of Highland Pellets chose Pine Bluff for this investment and this plant.”

The commission said the new plant would also create 482 indirect jobs and have an $86 million-per-year financial impact on the community.

The state is providing Highland an income-tax credit equal to 4 percent of the payroll from the new jobs and sales tax refunds on building materials, taxable machinery and project equipment, officials said.

According to its website, the Pine Bluff facility is Highland's first of several "geographically dispersed wood pellet facilities" it intends to create.

"We use our collective capabilities to ensure all market risks are managed effectively and that we deliver a cost effective and timely route to market," a statement on the website said.

Highland Pellets is filed as an LLC in Arkansas, economic development commission spokesman Scott Hardin said in an email. The company website lists a Boston address.

Read Thursday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for more on this story.

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