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EFACEC opening eyes, doors for IDA
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Landing EFACEC did more than get the Effingham Industrial Development Authority national and global attention. It also appears the Portuguese outfit’s decision to come to Effingham has drawn the eye of other industries.

IDA Chief Executive Officer John Henry said he and project manager Ryan Moore are currently fielding requests for seven other projects.

“And none of those touch I-16 or the Research Forest Tract,” Henry said.

Just as EFACEC explored a long list of sites before choosing Effingham, those seven prospects also are conducting wide searches. Henry said he did not know how many other locales in Georgia and how many other states were involved.

Henry and Nancy Cobb of the OneGeorgia Authority met with Mark Lofton, who has a start-up alternative fuels company called Coastal BioFuels. Coastal BioFuels uses a closed process, according to Henry, meaning there’s no exhaust or smell resulting from the manufacture of the fuel.

The company needs a 10,000 square foot building and is in talks for 1.74 acres. Once it is up and running, it will employ 18 people and produce 5 million gallons each year. Henry said Lofton needs $350,000 in financing for the $4 million project and he may be in line for a strategic industry loan fund package.

“We will have to write the grant proposal,” Henry said. “That’s the only skin we’ll have in it.”

The project also could help launch the IDA into strategic industries.

“The market for biofuels is great right now,” Henry said.

In November, Range Fuels held a groundbreaking in Treutlen County for the nation’s first commercial-scale cellulose-based ethanol plant. The facility will use wood and wood waste from pine forests and mills. It is expected to produce 20 million gallons a year initially and could produce up to 100 million gallons a year.

But an Augusta-area ethanol plant that opened in August 2006 has not generated any new fuel and could be on the verge of shuttering, according to reports. According to the Augusta Chronicle, the former pharmaceutical plant that was to be converted into an ethanol manufacturing facility is up for sale again.

The plant was supposed to make corn-based ethanol before switching to a cellulose-based fuel. Henry said corn-based ethanol makers are losing from 80 cents to a dollar on every gallon they’re producing.