St. Joe, Green Circle team up on economic development project
The St. Joe Company has signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) with Green Circle Bio Energy, Inc., a producer of biomass based renewable energy, that includes the potential to create new jobs in Northwest Florida and make the Port of Port St. Joe operational.
Green Circle is interested in leasing a site from St. Joe along the AN Railway to develop a wood pellet production facility. Green Circle already operates the world’s second largest wood pellet plant in Cottondale. This Jackson County plant directly employs 81 individuals and infuses more than $70 million into the local economy.
The two companies also have expressed their intent to enter into a wood fiber supply agreement as part of a definite agreement still to be negotiated. The wood pellets produced at the new production facility can be transported via truck or AN Railway to the Port of Port St. Joe for further shipment to overseas markets. Additionally, bulk cargo port facilities are being considered for development at the Port site to accommodate Green Circle’s shipping needs.
“The relationship between Green Circle and St. Joe is a step toward creating jobs and revitalizing the Port of Port St. Joe,” said Park Brady, CEO for The St. Joe Company. “A viable business is ready to use the Port and rail access to the Port site is being improved; the missing link to an operational Port is the necessary dredging improvements to the shipping channel.”
The Port of Port St. Joe is well positioned for bulk cargo shipments, offering access to rail, the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway and state and U.S. highways. The Port also has a navigational channel that is federally authorized to a maximum of 37 feet; however, dredging the Port’s shipping channel to the authorized depth is necessary prior to commencing shipping activities. The Letter of Intent states that the obligations of either The St. Joe Company or Green Circle Bio Energy are contingent upon the Port of Port St. Joe receiving funding to complete maintenance dredging of the shipping channel.
“We are excited about the possibility of leveraging our strong presence in Northwest Florida, further job and economic development in the region, and look forward to the successful dredging improvements of the shipping channel,” said Morten Neraas, CEO for Green Circle Bio Energy, Inc.
One of the port’s greatest assets is the approximately 260 acres of combined ready-to-be-leased lands adjacent to the bulkheads and the more than 5,000 acres of land in the Port environs available for immediate development.
“This is exciting news for the Port Authority,” said Leonard Costin, chairman of the Port St. Joe Port Authority. “With the commitment from Green Circle Bio Energy, the Port Authority can now move forward with grant proposals for funding the ship channel dredging.”