Waters' New Biotech solidifies proposed export facility location

By Katie Fletcher | July 30, 2014

Waters’ New Biotech, a pellet manufacturer headquartered in Wisconsin, receives approval of a letter of intent (LOI) for plans to expand southward. The LOI, approved by commissioners for the Mississippi State Port Authority, includes a potential five to seven acre lease on the West Pier of the Port of Gulfport in Mississippi. The company is looking to house an export facility on the leased land, starting with an initial lease for 30 years with three 10 year extension options.

Jonathan Daniels, the port executive director and CEO, believes Waters’ New Biotech’s intended presence in the Port of Gulfport will positively impact the state, specifically supporting the port’s diversification strategy. “We’re fortunate that we have the type of facilities that can handle bulk, because this certainly strengthens our position in the bulk market,” said Daniels. “The state of Mississippi is a strong natural resource based economy in the forest and wood products industry, and this continues to solidify our position in being able to assist one of the state’s strongest natural resources.”

The export facility will also help the port balance imports and exports in the bulk market. “A majority of what we handle now is on an import basis,” Daniels said. “This is a new market for us, and really a new region of the world where this company will be shipping into, so it opens up a trade link for us.”

The port follows a three stage process in their development role with the company according to Daniels. After filing a memo, the Letter of Intent is the second phase. Now with the approval of the Letter of Intent the third phase will begin, which is the actual lease execution. “Right now we have basically provided them with a hold on a footprint on the port site, and then they’ll go through their engineering evaluation to determine what type of facility is going to be best suited for the conditions we have here.”

The facility could potentially begin operation during the fourth quarter of 2015 “if everything works out according to their plan,” Daniels said.

Waters’ New Biotech plans to export 300,000 tons of pellets in its first year and 800,000 tons by year five. “We have a business plan to scale to the size of the market,” said Edward Waters, Waters’ New Biotech chairman of the board in a statement. “We are able to supply from any one location and Gulfport has the location, logistics and vision to be a key partner in this unique endeavor.”

Another endeavor the company plans to take on is the construction of a manufacturing facility in Pelahtchie, Mississippi, where they are also considering moving their corporation and offices. “There will be value added in that there is to be a production facility located in the state,” Daniels said. “Through utilization of a recent state and federal investment in the Kansas City Southern Railway, it will link the production facility for Waters’ New Biotech with the export facility at the port.”

Waters' New Biotech deems the proximity of the manufacturing facility and export facility as critical. "For biomass to energy to work and remain sustaining in a green industry, proximity of supply to the manufactured and then shipped product is critical," said Waters. "The foresight of each of the participants in putting this supply chain together is commendable."

Both facilities will be built simultaneously, and are anticipated to take 14 to 16 months, according to Waters. "The total project cost for both facilities will be approximately $200 million," said Waters.