Incentive grants worth $1.84 million

Published 8:50 am Tuesday, July 19, 2011

WINTON – As work progresses on a $52 million investment by Enviva Biomass to construct a pellet mill in Ahoskie, the Richmond, Va. based firm will be aided by grants from the state and local level.

At the most recent meeting of the Hertford County Board of Commissioners, they approved a Local Government Grant Agreement and Company Performance Agreement for Enviva.

“We talked about this a while back, an agreement for our participation in the NC One Grant for Enviva,” said Hertford County Manager Loria Williams. “You approved for Bill (Early, Hertford County’s Economic Development Director) and I to move forward with the grant application and what you have before you is the actual agreement that sets forth the county’s responsibilities to award the grant agreement for Enviva.”

“This grant agreement is put together very well, it spells out what they will do and what they should do, it ties them to making that commitment,” Commissioner Ronald Gatling noted.

Chuck Revelle, who serves as legal counsel to the county and the board of commissioners, said this was an agreement with the state to receive and disperse to Enviva $270,000 from the NC One Fund.

“Part of this agreement is there are local funds of at least that amount ($270,000) granted (to Enviva),” Revelle said. “You may recall our discussion on this last December where we discussed the county providing about $840,000 and the Town of Ahoskie providing about $730,000. There will be formal incentive grant agreements coming to you regarding those local matches.”

Those local grants from both government entities will be paid over a five-year period.

As Revelle pointed out, the property tax revenue paid by Enviva over their initial five years of operation will far exceed the grant amounts.

Additionally, as Revelle observed, Enviva is obligated to pay the grant agreements if they fail to meet the goals established in the wording of the document.

“It’s not free money for Enviva,” Revelle stressed. “We’re assured to receive more in revenues than what is granted.”

Based on the current tax rates in both Hertford County and Ahoskie, Enviva is projected to respectively pay each government entity $1.68 million and $1.46 million in property taxes over their first five years of operation.

The incentive grant agreement holds Enviva accountable for providing at least 50 jobs with an average annual wage of $38,000 plus health and retirement benefits. It must be noted that at the time of the NC One Grant being approved, Enviva had increased the production capacity at its new Ahoskie pellet mill, one being constructed to produce 350,000 metric tons per year. The company also has increased its workforce numbers to 60-plus.

“This is a significant investment by Enviva into Ahoskie and Hertford County,” Revelle said.

“I see a lot of work going on out there; they’re investing a lot of money into our county,” said Commission Chairman Johnnie Ray Farmer.

Upon a motion from Commission Vice Chairman Curtis Freeman and a second from Gatling, the NC One Grant for Enviva was approved by a 5-0 vote.

According to Enviva’s Glenn Gray, who is overseeing the construction of the pellet mill at the old G-P plant, work is on schedule and the facility will open by the fourth quarter of this year.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

email author More by Cal