Monday, July 27, 2009

July Port Authority Report--By Andrew Bagley

For Immediate Release

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

Re:  Progress Made in RBE Financing Package

HELENA-WEST HELENA- For the first time in several months, significant progress was reported on the progress of RBE Arkansas's efforts to secure financing for its proposed $1.8  billion facility to manufacture food-grade products and alternative fuels.

Martin Chaffin, executive director of the Port Authority, reported that Rod Miller, owner of RBE Arkansas, had a major breakthrough on his financing.  He said, "I had hoped to be able to report to you that it was all done today.  However, one document remains unsigned.  There were four major packages of documents.  Three of those have been completed.  Rod was disappointed as well."

Financing of the project has been the major hold back the past few months during the economic downturn.  Miller has worked with several groups and this arrangement should provide 99% of the financing required for the $1.8 billion facility.  Miller will have to provide the remaining 1%.  Once financing is in place and work begins, the project has the potential to totally revitalize Phillips County's economy, which has lagged behind the rest of the state for a generation.

Chaffin said, "We have worked hard for months on this project.  We have remained optimistic about this project, and I think we have more reasons to be hopeful today than ever before."

Chaffin also reported that a grain-handling group and a scrap metal group had put their expansion projects in the harbor on hold because of the continuing recession.  He also told the Port Authority Board of Directors that the crane should be ready for the upcoming pipe unloading to be done by the Mercer Corporation this fall.

Treasurer Henry Richmond gave the fiscal year-end financial report which showed the report in excellent financial condition.  Engineer Jim Frazier reported that the Corps of Engineers was on schedule to come dredge the main channel of the harbor this fall, but that the Port Authority would have to dredge that portion immediately under the crane.

The meeting adjourned with Chaffin promising to keep the board updated about movement on the RBE project.

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