Tuesday, July 29, 2008

For Immediate Release

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

Re: Miller Appears at Port Authority Meeting

HELENA-WEST HELENA- After two years of hard work and negotiations, the Phillips County Port Authority can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel after hearing a report from RBE's Rod Miller that assured the port's board of directors that the final pages of securing the $1.8 billion in financing for Miller's RBE Arkansas project were about to be turned.

Miller's report was the highlight of the meeting. He said, "We have meetings in New York to finalize the details, but we have firm commitments for financing this project." He continued, "We have it in writing, but the documents have yet to be signed." Miller went on to say that he hopes that a final announcement of the financing package can occur in about two to three weeks.

Once the financing deals are completed, Miller reported that the permit applications would be filed and that he was meeting with officials from the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality in an effort to expedite the permitting process so that construction could begin. He said, "I would really love to be able to start moving dirt by the end of the year."

Miller added that he hopes the details of the incentive package being offered by the State of Arkansas would be completed in the very near future saying, "I understand their process and why it has taken this amount of time. We hope that will be taken care of soon."

Miller also praised the efforts of Port Director Martin Chaffin saying, "When the time comes, I want everyone to know how helpful Martin has been and how hard he has worked." Chaffin was particularly excited at the news that the long process was about to result in construction of a plant at the port. He said, "We have worked hard, but we are fortunate. This project will reshape the economy of the Delta. We anticipate over 1000 jobs during the construction process. When Phase I is completed that will be over 200 permanent jobs averaging over $20 per hour and will represent an investment of $601 million."

In other news, Chaffin reported that the possible fabricating facility with investors from Mississippi had visited the port and economic development officials from the state during the past month. Chaffin said, "We are moving forward with this prospect and things look promising. We hope that things will move forward."

Chaffin also reported that he and Mayor James Valley had met with David Atkins of Atkins International. Atkins' firm works to help market port facilities and toured the Helena Harbor last week with Chaffin and Valley. Chaffin said, "We are expecting him to provide a report with some of his ideas about ways we can better market our harbor." Valley, who was also present at the meeting said, "Martin, Mr. Atkins, and I had a good visit. I look forward to doing whatever I can to assist Martin with this process and want to do whatever I can as Mayor to make our city prosperous."

The port also considered whether or not to move forward with proposals to advertise a request for qualifications for a consultant to do a more comprehensive analysis of the harbor's operations. The proposal had been initially offered by member Todd Stewart. The port decided to table discussion of that possibility until after the deal with RBE had been settled and an announcement of the beginning of that project had been made. The vote to table was 5-3

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