Members of the Economic Development Corporation of Clark County were given the latest update on the progress of the Sun Bio mill during their monthly meeting Tuesday.
During a recent visit to Arkadelphia and the state, Sun Bio representatives discussed with local and state representatives the fate of the air permit, which is needed before construction of the Sun Bio mill can commence.
As of right now, Stephen Bell, president/CEO of the Arkadelphia Regional Economic Development Alliance and Area Chamber of Commerce, said a deadline of Friday, Nov. 10 has been issued for the submission of all information needed for the air permit. After submission of the permit, Bell said there is a 30-day waiting period for public comments.
“The other thing we have talked about is this Caney Creek Wilderness area, which is in the Ouachita National Forest, which is within 100 miles of the mill site. They will have to do more computer modeling. As part of that, the federal land management will get 60 days in which they can comment on the modeling. Building all of that in, we’re looking at probably January,” said Bell.
As a result, construction of the mill is now expected to begin in May 2018, instead of March.
“There are other deadlines that we are going to have to make in order to make all of that happen,” Bell said.
According to Bell, Sun Bio is spending their own money on several components of the project.
“They are doing environmental work on the property,” said Bell, who added that Sun Bio is also working on securing electricity for the construction site.
In addition, plans are still in the works to secure a landfill on the property of Sun Bio. The landfill can be used by multiple companies who are interested in using it.
EDA Grant No. 2
• Bell also reported a second Economic Development Administration grant has been approved for Clark County.
The $1.3 million grant is a 50/50 match that will support the construction of a rail spur and a public transload facility with a cross dock in order to promote private investment in southwest Arkansas. The transload facility will be used by multiple companies.
“This is one of the more important grants that we wanted. We wanted to use the rail that is being built through the Sun Paper property for other companies and this is the grant that will allow us to do that,” said Bell.
In addition to a cross dock, the grant will be used to build a parking lot and a driveway for the transload facility.
The second grant will be added to an EDA grant that was previously awarded in the amount of $1 million.
The first grant will support the first phase of a project, which includes the dirt work for a rail spur near the Clark County Industrial Park. The EDCCC has partnered with the Southwest Arkansas Regional Intermodal Authority for the projects. The deadline to complete the first portion of the project is in August 2018.
The second phase of the project will cover the work on the opposite side of Highway 67 near the site of the Sun Bio mill.
According to Bell, the match will come from the EDCCC’s pledge to Sun Bio. In addition to EDA funds, Bell said funding for the overall project will be provided by the state of Arkansas.
Arkadelphia Poultry Plant
• Bell reported that representatives with the plant are still planning to open the facility next year.