The Board of Aldermen is considering applying for a $3.5 million grant to help subsidize Enviva's proposed wood pellet plant in Bond.
The City of Wiggins will host a public hearing at City Hall this Thursday at 5 p.m. to hear feedback from the community related to the Water and Environmental Program grants funded through the USDA's Office of Rural Development.
If the grant is approved, it will go toward constructing a water line, well, and water tank, according to the City's public notice.
"More specific details regarding this project application will be provided at a public hearing," the notice reads. "The purpose of this hearing will be to make the citizenry aware of the proposed project and to comment on any items and or issues regarding the proposed project."
Although the notice does not specify Enviva, the City voted to "provide water to the proposed site, which will cost the City of Wiggins approximately $3.5 million," according to an official letter dated November 23, 2021.
"This financial offer is contingent upon satisfactory financial and project due diligence
review. If the number of jobs or costs of the infrastructure improvements change, the
City of Wiggins, MDA, Stone County, and SCEDP will desire to discuss the new proposal
before there is a final commitment of funds," the letter reads.
The City's offer is in partnership with the Board of Supervisors, the Stone County Economic Development Partnership, and the Mississippi Development Authority.
MDA is the state agency tasked with attracting industries to the state. According to its website, the agency promotes its services of connecting industries with suitable areas and partnering to deliver incentives, grants, or rebate packages.
In recent years Enviva has received similar local incentives for a plant in Mississippi.
George County taxpayers provided $4 million for a water tank and water well at Enviva’s Lucedale plant. Enviva’s reported net revenue for the first quarter of 2021 was $241 million.
Elected officials in Stone County have been in negotiations with an unnamed industry through MDA and SCEDP as early as December 2020.
So far, Enviva’s proposed plant has a promise of $3.5 million from the City for water infrastructure, a $700,000 offer from the County to assist in the land purchase, and a $2.5 million grant for a rail spur through the Gulf Coast Restoration Fund.
The County and City plan to recoup the investment through taxes.
All offers are based on the projected economic impact the company will have in Stone County.
Currently, Enviva plans to make over a $200 million investment into the site and add 115 jobs.
SCEDP Executive Director Betsy Rowell told Aldermen at a November meeting that Enviva is projected to spend $1 million on the land acquisition, $4 million on the plant’s construction, and $130 million on manufacturing equipment and $80 million on other equipment for the site.
“This industry could generate $1.4 million in taxes per year for the County and Stone County School District, income that is critical to economic growth and support of Stone County and its community,” Rowell said.
At an EDP board meeting Monday, County Engineer Jon Bond said the plant construction would add 300 construction jobs for a two-year period.
“A few individuals have recently expressed concerns with the project. This is both surprising and disappointing because some of them have known about the proposed project and potential land deal for nearly a year and haven’t voiced opposition,” EDP Board President Scott Maddox said in a press release on Monday.
The EDP announced at the regular board meeting that members were freed from most of the non-disclosure agreement with Enviva on Monday.
The board members are still restricted from discussing financial incentives.
The board did confirm Enviva has the “best and final offer” from Stone County.
It is Enviva’s decision on the next move.