British company to open breakthrough Hopewell plant - NBC12.com - Richmond, VA News

British company to open breakthrough Hopewell plant

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HOPEWELL, VA (WWBT) -

The nation's first barley to ethanol facility will be brought back to life, after sitting unused in the center of Hopewell for nearly two years.

The multi-million dollar deal was revealed Wednesday morning between a British bio-fuel company, and the facility's former owner, Osage Bio Energy.

Britain's Future Fuels LLP will buy the $150 million ethanol plant, a complex that never opened when it was completed in late 2010. The original owner was sold before ethanol production began. Osage cited unfavorable market conditions for the false start.

"Good things come to those who wait," said Christina J. Luman-Bailey, a Hopewell councilor who was mayor when the plant's gaskets fell silent. "The buyer is excited, and highly motivated."

The plant is in mint condition, and was originally estimated to bring in $2.2 million in annual tax revenue to Hopewell. City leaders are not yet sure how much revenue will come from the plant under new ownership, but a surge of funds could mean more money for the city's police force, infrastructure projects and schools.

Osage also reached a deal with the city that will have the company pay $1.6 million in overdue taxes.

"That money will go to our capital improvement and surplus fund," Luman-Bailey said in an interview Wednesday. "We're hoping to give city employees a raise with the money as well."

Future Fuels currently operates a £160m ethanol plant in Northern England. The company is in the preliminary stages of the Hopewell purchase, and has not said how many jobs it expects to create in the area.

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