Aurora board told plant coming soon
Offer to purchase land for facility expires on June 30
By CHRISTINA HALE
AURORA — Tom Thompson, the executive director of the Beaufort County Economic Development Commission, assured members of the Aurora Board of Commissioners on Monday night that the planned ethanol plant, which has been six years in the making, is coming soon.
Thompson’s remarks were part of his update on the overall economic standing of the town.
Dave Bradley, a leading partner with Agri-Ethanol Products in Raleigh, originally had a $60 million plant put together, Thompson said.
The wealthy individual paid Bradley “to stop what he was doing and design a larger plant and 19 other sites,” Thompson said.
Thompson said the recent delays have been caused by two things: the cost of steel and concrete going up and the limited number of qualified contractors available to build the plant. Those contractors have plenty of work and offers of work, he noted.
Thompson said the funds for the Aurora plant are in place.
The offer for AEP to buy the land for the plant expires June 30. Thompson didn’t know if that deadline could be renegotiated, but he said Bradley assured him the June 30 deadline would provide him enough time to begin the project.
As for other plans for Aurora, Thompson said “a lot of what we planned … revolved around that plant.”
An investor has been looking into building a waterfront hotel in Aurora, but that investor is waiting for a final announcement on the ethanol plant, Thompson said. The hotel could take in traffic from the ethanol plant and “be a sportsman’s hotel like you see in Plymouth,” he said.
Thompson suggested putting up a Web site, once the hotel is in place, in an effort to “sell this area as a great place to come to hunt and fish.”
Commissioner Clif Williams said in response, “I’m going to keep my hopes up that we will hit a home run, but it’s been a long way.”
More than just the ethanol plant was discussed at the meeting.
Several investors were interested in the “old North Carolina Phosphate Corporation barge site,” Thompson said. But when PCS Phosphate decided to seek a permit that would allow it to expand its mining operation, that barge site was taken off the market, Thompson said. Bids for that site reached $1 billion, he said.