---- — MOUNT VERNON (AP) — A company backed by a Pakistani group has picked a site near the Ohio River in southwestern Indiana for a planned $2.1-billion fertilizer plant.
Midwest Fertilizer Corp. is seeking zoning approval from Posey County officials for a 219-acre site that is now farmland in an industrial area along the river just southwest of Mount Vernon, the Evansville Courier & Press reported.
The project faced doubts after Gov. Mike Pence in January pulled state support, citing concerns U.S. military officials had about fertilizer made by Pakistan-based parent company Fatima Group being used in explosives in Afghanistan.
But local leaders continued to back it, with county officials this summer approving $1.3 billion in bonds.
“Now they have a site, what this says to the public is ‘This is the real deal. We’re moving forward,’” said John Taylor, executive director of the Posey County Economic Development Partnership.
Project backers had originally wanted to build the plant to the east of Mount Vernon on property owned by the Ports of Indiana, but that location became unworkable after the state withdrew its support.
The Indiana Finance Authority originally issued bonds for the plant last year, but Pence suspended the state’s involvement over the Fatima Group concerns. Since then, U.S. military officials have said Fatima Group has improved product safety with changes to its supply chain and work on a less-explosive formula.
Midwest Fertilizer officials have said the Posey County plant would produce urea ammonium nitrate, which is a fertilizer not used in explosives. The plant is expected to have about 200 full-time workers once it starts production at the site about 20 miles west of Evansville.
Mike Chorlton, who is overseeing the project for Midwest Fertilizer, said the company is working to obtain state construction approvals and arrange financing. He said plans are for construction to start next spring.
Information from: Evansville Courier & Press, http://www.courierpress.com