Refinery project in construction financing stage

Kali Katerberg/Daily Mining Gazette Tom Poisson (left) and Pat Tucker discuss future projects Wednesday at the Economic Development Commission meeting.

ONTONAGON — With several development plans in the works, the Ontonagon area is trying to pick up steam again.

At its Wednesday meeting, the Economic Development Commission (EDC) heard an update on the SynSel Biofuel plant planned for the area.

“The last time we were here, we were in the process of putting together the construction deposits in order to move towards a closing… on the $300 million in construction funds,” said EDC member Pat Tucker.

Tucker is also president of Lost Bowl Development, which owns the former paper mill site that SnySel is eyeing for the plan and is partnered on the project.

“We have secured the deposits, those are in the middle of being transferred to the appropriate accounts… that should be completed within a couple of weeks,” Tucker said.

The biofuel plant is moving along as planned, though a little slower than the EDC would like. Tucker anticipates a public announcement soon as well as a question-and-answer open house for the community.

In addition to bringing hundreds of new jobs, the Snysel plant will require expansions to local rail systems and the airport.

Later in the meeting, the directors heard plans for Ontonagon-based JSP Logistics to expand in the area.

The EDC unanimously approved a letter of support for the company’s plan to open the manufacturing facility in the former White Pine copper mine’s southwest shaft. The proposed manufacturing expansion would support the oil fields and would employ 10 workers.

The project requires three-phase power to be restored in the shaft house.

“Right now that building is rendered pretty much useless, except for some cold storage,” said Scott Roehm.

To help pay to restore power, JSP logistics is seeking federal and state grants, requiring the letter of support from the EDC. The results of the funding request will be known within the next 60 days, Roehm explained.