Equity Fund - City of Baxley Infrastructure and FRAM Renewable Fuels
Baxley, in Appling County, is located in Southeast Georgia approximately 50 miles from the Atlantic Ocean with proximity to the Savannah and Brunswick Ports and is situated on two major highway corridors: U.S. Highway 1 and U.S. Highway 341.
In 1992, the Georgia Council of Economic Development Organizations (CEDO) was first formed to foster regional cooperation by neighboring counties. The leaders of Appling, Bacon and Jeff Davis Counties also saw the need to nurture economic vitality by attracting business to their area. In 1995, the three counties combined to purchase 127 acres of land to create a tri-county industrial park and provide water, sewer and rail signal. With the Golden Isles Parkway multi-lane expansion of U.S. Highway 341 complete between Baxley and Hazlehurst, development was ensured. The Tri-County Industrial Park would become an important development area for prospective businesses.
In 2003, the City of Baxley applied to and was awarded a OneGeorgia Authority Equity grant of $500,000 to assist with an expansion and upgrade of the wastewater treatment plant to meet regulations of the Federal Clean Water Act and to meet capacity needs of the industrial park.
The first business to locate in the Tri-County Industrial Park was Appling County Pellets, a renewable energy industry subsidiary of Fram Renewable Fuels.
Fram (meaning “Forward”) was a ship used in expeditions in the Arctic and Antarctic regions by Norwegian explorers and was probably the strongest wooden ship ever built. Much as the Ship Fram, Fram Renewable Fuels strives to be the best in the business. The industry of renewable energy is expected to grow enormously over the next few years and well into the future. The products sold by Fram include: HeatSmart Pellets, HeatSmart Firebricks, HeatSmart Firelogs and Animal Bedding. All products are 100 % wood and follow the guidelines provided by the Pellet Fuel Institute. The manufacturing facility, Appling County Pellets, is strategically located in the middle of an area with plentiful resources. At this facility, HeatSmart Wood Pellets and HeatSmart Firebricks are being made around the clock. Annual production of wood pellets is expected to reach 200,000 tons in 2010, with hopes of increasing production levels into the future.
Since production began in 2008, there have been numerous and ongoing improvements to the processes and infrastructure at the plant. Currently this facility provides jobs for approximately 45 people from the surrounding areas. As the population increases, it is essential for our economy that the job market grows as well. It is the addition of facilities like Appling County Pellets that allows small communities to maintain their status and grow in difficult times.
The establishment of Appling County Pellets has had a great affect on local businesses. Not only did it provide many local companies an opportunity to help construct the plant, but numerous vendors from local areas are used on a day-to-day basis to provide equipment, tools, services and delivery services. The forestry industry also benefits from the establishment of such a facility. More than fifteen area saw mills are able to sell their dust to ACP, benefitting the mills while providing the necessary material for the production of wood pellets. The cycle is mutually beneficial.
Oil Fuel prices are on the constant rise, and as renewable energy claims a small percentage of the market now, that number is on the rise as well. The conversion of power generation facilities to biomass burners is a step that could lead to the establishment of many more plants like ACP.
The regional cooperation and vision of the leadership of Appling, Bacon and Jeff Davis counties more than a decade ago is continuing to produce positive economic impact on rural Georgia.
OneGeorgia’s Equity Fund provides grants and loans to eligible rural communities to help build capacity and necessary infrastructure for economic development. This “one-size-doesn’t-fit-all” fund is OneGeorgia’s most flexible financing tool.
Who can apply?
Eligible recipients of grant and loan funds include general-purpose local governments and joint or multi-county development authorities in any of OneGeorgia’s directly or conditionally eligible counties.
How can the funding be utilized?
Grants/Loans may be made up to $500,000 per project based on regional impact, support from neighboring counties and local investment and commitment. Up to $1,000,000 per project is available based on support by a multi-county development authority with at least one directly eligible county, a revenue/cost sharing agreement between two or more counties and substantial multi-county impact. Applicants are encouraged to seek the advice of the Authority for further details and funding parameters prior to submitting an application.
Many types of projects contain fundable activities. Examples include: • Downtown revitalization • Tourism initiatives
• Infrastructure • Workforce development • Feasibility studies • “Outside the Box” projects
Specifically, activities are funded via grants and/or loans; following are examples of how funding is delineated:
• Grants: For publicly owned assets such as land acquisition, site improvements and infrastructure.
• Loans: Funds at 3% for machinery & equipment for 7 years and bricks & mortar for 20 years. Funds at 0% and 5 years deferment are available for speculative buildings.
Here’s how it works:
Applications are available online at www.onegeorgia.org and are accepted on an ongoing basis.