Projects produce jobs

Published 10:16 am Wednesday, May 15, 2013

JACKSON – Economic projects in Northampton County are moving along.

Last week, Northampton County Economic Development Commission Director Gary Brown gave the Board of Commissioners an update of economic development projects.

Brown began by reporting that Enviva Northampton near Gaston is now up and running.

“I’m pleased to inform you that Enviva Northampton is now in ‘hot commission’,” he said. “Hot commission basically means they are now in production. They are producing pellets and they are continuing to work the bugs out of the manufacturing process.”

Brown said Enviva officials hope the plant will be in full production in June.

He added Barnhill Construction will soon begin work on Lebanon Church Road, between NC 46 and NC 48.

“They’re going to be doing that in two stages: one, beginning at NC 48 and working south to the new industrial access road near Lebanon Church, and the second phase of it will be from NC 46 northbound at the same location,” he said. “That’s a full reclamation project, widening, strengthening of the highway, pushing the ditches out.”

Brown also spoke about a bid opening for the natural gas pipeline from Milwaukee to Severn for the expansion of Severn Peanut Company.

“That project has expansion of production facilities that Severn Peanut Company is the driving force behind that and the creation of additional 42 jobs with (that company),” he said.

Commissioner Fannie Greene asked Brown if anything was being shipped out of the Enviva Northampton facility.

“They have begun manufacturing pellets, I don’t know of the volume of their production to date,” he said.

Brown said he didn’t know if what was being manufactured was sample or contractor work.

Once Enviva Northampton is up to capacity it will be able to produce up to 500,000 metric tons of pellets annually. A truck transporting the pellets will be leaving the plant every 23 minutes to deliver the product to the company’s deep water port operations in Chesapeake, Va.

Many of Enviva’s customers are electric utilities in Europe who use the pellets to operate power plants in place of coal, reducing their carbon footprint.

In addition to the Northampton plant, Enviva currently has two facilities in Mississippi, one in Ahoskie, and a plant for Southampton County, Va. was announced last year.

Northampton Enviva is a $60 million investment for the company and will employ about 80 people.