ANGOLA — RES Polyflow expects to start construction on a plant in Ashley near the end of the year, the company’s president told Steuben County Commissioners on Monday.
In December 2015, RES Polyflow announced the selection of Ashley as the site of its Midwest production hub. The project was made possible through the support of Ashley, Steuben County and the state of Indiana.
However, declining crude oil prices had made it difficult for the company to receive funding until recent changes that had a positive impact on RES Polyflow, said the company’s CEO, Jay Schabel.
“We anticipate the plant funding to be finalized around the end of this year and are seeking the necessary permits and approvals to be able to break ground immediately thereafter. We have also been working with the Town of Ashley and (Steuben County) REMC to resume the activities needed to ensure we have utilities and roadways to the site for construction to begin immediately,” Schabel said in a statement read to commissioners.
RES Polyflow is planning to build the first commercial plastics-to-fuel facility in the United States. Its raw material is waste plastic.
RES Polyflow has received $1.5 million in loans from Steuben County but has yet to secure all of the funding for the project that would be located just east of the Ashley town limits, east of Interstate 69, on land adjacent to Klink Industries on the DeKalb-Steuben county line road.
The loan from Steuben County came from its Major Moves fund, which is derived from the 2006 lease of the Indiana Toll Road to a private operator.
Of the loans, $1 million was supposed to have been paid off by July 1, 2016, but the company missed that deadline and interest started to accrue. The money was to help secure private financing for the $90 million project. The $500,000 loan will be due by January 2024.
In January of this year, RES Polyflow paid $20,000 in interest owed, and the county rewrote the contract with the company. Of the changes, the interest was increased from 4.0 percent to 4.5 percent. At that time, the company was anticipating a groundbreaking this fall.
“I am pleased to say that despite the downturn in oil pricing and the resulting instability in the oil market, we were successful in securing contracts for the purchase of additional product streams which, combined with the technology and construction guarantees provided by our supply partners, added a significant amount of stable revenue and assured production success to our business model. This approach was well received by the funding community and we are now assessing funding offers in order to choose the partners that are best suited to support the growth of the business in Ashley, Indiana, and beyond,” Schabel said.
Company officials have said RES Polyflow will pay an average starting wage of $42,000-$45,000 in its first phase, which would employ up to 58 people with a payroll of $2.6 million. A second phase would add 50 jobs and an additional $2.2 million in payroll. Schabel said in an August meeting five people would be brought in to work at the facility, and all others would be hired locally. Total employment is projected at 136.
The company is eligible for $1 million in state economic development and training incentives from the Indiana Economic Development Corp. to support the 136 full-time jobs it predicts will be created by all phases of the project. The company also is collaborating with Indiana’s WorkOne on the staffing plan for the facility.
“Thank you again for your continued support and encouragement,” Schabel said Monday. “Our team is excited to begin building in Steuben County, and we look forward to being a strong contributor to the community.”