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Enviva reaches milestone

When Enviva arrived in the Roanoke-Chowan area four years ago, company officials said the Maryland-based operation would be a “game-changer” in the local area.

Based on the latest employment numbers at Enviva’s two local pellet mills as well as related jobs in the logging and trucking industries, they have lived up to their word.

Enviva, a producer of a sustainable source of renewable energy – wood pellets –announced Wednesday that it has achieved a key milestone, creating about 500 jobs at its North Carolina facilities and in related fields such as logging and trucking since 2011.

The milestone comes as the company continues construction of two new projects – an export terminal at the Port of Wilmington and a Sampson County pellet production plant – that will lead to the creation of almost 300 additional jobs in 2016.

Enviva, which began its North Carolina operations in 2011 with the opening of the Ahoskie mill, also has a mill in Northampton County, west of Garysburg, which came on line in 2013. Combined, those two mills employ 190 workers. The remaining jobs Enviva has helped to sustain by its presence in the R-C area involve private businesses in the logging and trucking industries.

“We’re proud to be putting North Carolinians to work producing a source of renewable energy that improves the environment,” said John Keppler, President and CEO of Enviva. “The state’s forest products industry has suffered significant job losses and plant closures in recent years. Enviva is happy to create economic opportunity for communities that have faced major challenges.”

Hertford County Economic Development Director Bill Early worked behind the scenes with Enviva as well as state officials to help land the company in Ahoskie.

“Enviva has been a great corporate citizen in Hertford County,” Early said. “They have met and exceeded every projection made during our negotiations to locate in Ahoskie. Enviva committed to create 53 direct jobs at their facility in Ahoskie and at the end of 2014 actually had 84 full-time employees.

“In addition, with Enviva’s location to Ahoskie, Ezzell trucking located in Ahoskie to serve the facility creating additional jobs for local residents,” Early stated.

He noted that Enviva located in Ahoskie after the closing of International Paper in Franklin.

“IP’s closing basically left area landowners without a market for timber products,” Early stressed. “This resulted in many of our loggers going out of business after many years. Enviva revived the logging industry in the Roanoke Chowan area putting many loggers back to work.

“Hertford County is proud to have Enviva as a corporate citizen. We look forward to working with Enviva for many years to come,” Early added.

Beyond direct and indirect employment, the company has invested more than $300 million to build its North Carolina facilities. This financial commitment will have a ripple effect throughout the state. The North Carolina State Ports Authority estimates that Enviva’s new port facility and associated pellet production plants will drive $780 million in regional economic activity every year.

Additionally, Enviva, like any other business, pays local taxes. Enviva’s facilities already pay more than $2.4 million in taxes annually — money that helps fund state and local schools, roadways and other projects.

Enviva’s wood pellet production in North Carolina has benefitted private forest landowners who manage sustainable, working forests and who prevent their land from being converted to commercial or residential development. These forest owners supply Enviva with wood that is left over from high-value timber harvests, which Enviva uses to produce about 870,000 metric tons of wood pellets in North Carolina annually.

“North Carolina has been a wonderful place for our company to do business,” said Keppler. “We’re proud of the jobs we’ve created and look forward to being a leading employer and good neighbor for years to come.”

Enviva is currently accepting applications for their facilities in Wilmington and Sampson County. Those interested in applying are encouraged to visit Enviva’s at www.envivabiomass.com/careers.

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.

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