The St. Joe Company announced that it has signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) with Green Circle Bio Energy, Inc., a producer of biomass based renewable energy. The LOI encourages economic development opportunities for Florida’s Northwest region, including the potential to make the Port of Port St. Joe operational.
The LOI anticipates several potential new business development opportunities to create jobs in the region. Green Circle is interested in leasing a site from St. Joe along the AN Railway to develop a wood pellet production facility. Green Circle operates the world’s second largest wood pellet plant in Cottondale, Fla. This plant directly employs 81 individuals with an additional several hundred indirect jobs created and infuses more than $70 million in the local community. Green Circle and St. Joe also express their intent to enter into a wood fiber supply agreement as part of a definite agreement to be negotiated between the parties.
The wood pellets produced at the new production facility can be transported via truck or AN Railway to the Port of Port St. Joe for further shipment to overseas markets. Additionally, bulk cargo port facilities are being considered for development at the Port site to accommodate Green Circle’s shipping needs.
The Port of Port St. Joe is well positioned for bulk cargo shipments, offering access to rail, the U.S. Gulf Intracoastal Waterway and state and U.S. highways. The Port also has a navigational channel that is federally authorized to a maximum of 37 feet; however, dredging the Port’s shipping channel to the authorized depth is necessary prior to commencing shipping activities. The Letter of Intent states that the obligations of either The St. Joe Company or Green Circle Bio Energy are contingent upon the Port of Port St. Joe receiving funding to complete maintenance dredging of the shipping channel.
“The relationship between Green Circle and St. Joe is a step toward creating jobs and revitalizing the Port of Port St. Joe,” said Park Brady, CEO for The St. Joe Company. “A viable business is ready to use the Port and rail access to the Port site is being improved; the missing link to an operational Port is the necessary dredging improvements to the shipping channel.”
“We are excited about the possibility of leveraging our strong presence in Northwest Florida, further job and economic development in the region, and look forward to the successful dredging improvements of the shipping channel,” said Morten Neraas, CEO for Green Circle Bio Energy, Inc.
“Today’s announcement is great news for Port St. Joe and our surrounding region,” said Congressman Steve Southerland. “By building upon Northwest Florida’s tremendous potential, both as a world leader in biomass production and a natural fit for rail, road, and waterway shipping, The St. Joe Company and Green Circle have made an important commitment to growing jobs and strengthening our local economy.”
“Such a creative partnership between government and the business community will help ensure that the Port of Port St. Joe will be a cornerstone of prosperity for the people of North Florida, and will help foster the creation of more jobs and meaningful employment,” said Sen. Bill Montford.
Rep. Halsey W. Beshears said, “This is such a tremendous opportunity for all of North Florida. The tentative partnership agreement that The St. Joe Company has reached with Green Circle Bio Energy, Inc. means greater opportunities and more jobs creating more economic growth for all of Northwest Florida.”
“This is exciting news for the Port Authority,” said Leonard Costin, Chairman of the Port St. Joe Port Authority. “With the commitment from Green Circle Bio Energy, the Port Authority can now move forward with grant proposals for funding the ship channel dredging.”
Press Release, May 16, 2013