Tuesday, April 29, 2008

[N. Andrew Bagley's Blog] April Port Authority Report

For Immediate Release


For More Information contact Martin Chaffin @ (870) 338-1418


Re:  Chaffin Reports on Numerous Prospects Showing Interest in Harbor


HELENA-WEST HELENA- At the regular monthly meeting of the Phillips County Port Authority Board of Directors, Executive Director Martin Chaffin gave a lengthy report detailing progress with RBE Arkansas and interest from numerous other prospects.


Chaffin began his report with an update of the progress being made by RBE Arkansas in its efforts to finalize its financial package for its proposed $1.8 billion facility at the Helena Harbor.  Chaffin held a series of meetings with Rod Miller, the head of RBE Arkansas, members of his financial team, engineers, state economic development officials, and others who would like to have projects that would work in conjunction with RBE's proposal.


Chaffin said, "Over the past fourteen days, I have been meeting steadily with Rod and his associates.  Right now I can report that the interim financing should be in place in 3-6 weeks, which would allow RBE Arkansas to finalize the land purchase, begin the permitting process, and start the construction.  Permanent financing should be in place within 2-4 months."


He continued, "Everyone involved is being very positive.  Everything continues to look good and I remain optimistic.  We continue to get closer to finishing this deal every day."


Chaffin also reported that a chemist from Auburn University with a technology to turn algae into alternative fuels also met with him and Miller.  The chemist would like to bring his technology to the project in the second phase of the construction.  If that could be managed, the cost of the alternative fuel produced at the site could plummet making it very affordable on the energy market.


Chaffin also reported interest from firms ranging from a German company with an undisclosed type of manufacturing referred to Chaffin by the state which plans to visit in May to a Dutch windmill producer, to an automotive assembly planet.  All of these are in very early stages of the process, but Chaffin said that a couple of the projects have real potential to have a significant economic impact if they can obtain financing.


Chaffin also reported that the Port Authority continues to benefit from the unloading of pipe being used to build the state's new natural gas pipeline.  He said, "We are receiving all of the traffic that was supposed to go up the Arkansas River to Little Rock and Conway because of the flooding.  I think we have had 26 more barges of pipe unload at our site than was originally anticipated."  Port Member Jim Frazier added, "That's a significant asset that we have at this port.  We are open 365 days and are able to handle the excessive water.  Ports on the Arkansas River have been forced to close."


The Board concluded its business with a financial report from Treasurer Henry Richmond and a promise from Board Member Todd Stewart to have a report from his committee that will include a draft request for qualifications asking consulting firms to submit proposals for marketing the harbor.


Posted By andrew bagley to N. Andrew Bagley's Blog at 4/28/2008 09:11:00 PM

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