Bio-fuel firm wins jobs grant from County Commission

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — A bio-fuel firm with plans to take over the former OceanSpray factory near the Indian River County Main Landfill has been awarded a $310,000 jobs grant – provided it sets up shop as planned.

INEOS New Planet BioEnergy hopes to close on the property’s purchase by the end of summer after receiving several other grants it is seeking. The firm expects to create 55 new jobs, which salaries would range from nearly $27,000 to approximately $54,000 or more, which would earn it $310,000 in grant funds from the county.  

The grant monies would be paid out over a period of three years, according to Community Development Director Bob Keating, provided INEOS New Planet BioEnergy can prove its employees are earning the amount promised and the requisite number of people were hired.

The county and the Indian River County Chamber of Commerce have been working with INEOS New Planet for two years to bring the company to the area.

“They are a true joy to work with,” said Helene Caseltine, economic development director at the Chamber.

She urged the Board of County Commissioners Tuesday to award the jobs grant and pass a pair of resolutions of support for two grants the firm is seeking from the state.

Those grants include the Qualified Target Industry Tax Refund Program and the Brownfield redevelopment Bonus Refund.

Keating told commissioners that both state grants require the county to provide a 20 percent match if awarded.

Any matching funds the county would have to make would come out of the $310,000 jobs grant monies, Keating said.

David King, INEOS’s president, told commissioners that his firm would be setting up the first commercial plant using technology to turn vegetative waste – such as yard debris – and construction demolition debris into ethanol, creating biofuel.

After Tuesday’s board meeting, King said that the company will have to resubmit its grant request to the Florida Governor’s Office of Energy seeking $2.5 million, due to an unanticipated increase in the cost for the project.

He said he expects to send in the changes in the next couple weeks. It is unknown when he expects to hear back from the state on the request.

“There’s a whole bunch of loose ends,” King said of the project, which make it difficult for him to say with certainty when INEOS New Planet BioEnergy expects to get its biofuel refinery set up.

Such loose ends include finalizing the engineering and securing agreements for the feed stock and end users of the biofuel.

Much, if not all, of the feed stock is expected to come from the main landfill in the form of yard and construction waste.

Commission Chairman Peter O’Bryan has said that if the biofuel refinery is successful, it could extend the lifespan of the main landfill indefinitely.

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