McGehee Biofuels Plant Would Boost Region, Locals Say

A planned combination biodiesel production and soybean oil crush facility east of McGehee in Chicot County could eventually employ up to 200, County Judge Fred Zieman said this week.
Arkansasbusiness.com reported this week that Consolidated Biofuels Inc. of Chicago and International Bio Fuels Corp. had formed a joint venture to build and operate the plant at the Port of Yellow Bend on the Mississippi River.
Consolidated Biofuels said the $78 million project, which it wants to be fully operational in 2008, would have a designed capacity of 150 million gallons of biodiesel and 70 million bushels of soybean oil crush annually.
The facility would be located on 65 acres of optioned acreage in the Port of Yellow Bend’s facilities, the company said.
The proposed project’s funding hasn’t been finalized, said John Harbour of Little Rock, who is helping put the deal together. The plan is to use Act 9 public bond funding, which would be bought by venture capitalists. Chicot County would own the facility under the proposed deal and lease it to Consolidated Biofuels to operate it.
Harbour said he expected to have all the financial arrangements worked out within the next 30 days.
Such a deal could be a boon to a county that continues to lose population.
Zieman said he had been told that initial employment would be about 40 workers and it could reach 200 workers at full capacity. But more than jobs, the plant would add infrastructure, boost property taxes and aid the local trucking and barge operators, Harbour said.
Working with Harbour to put the deal together, he said, are Bob Wright at Crews & Associates and David Menz at the Williams & Anderson law firm.