Logansport officials are hoping to draw a bio-fuel facility by providing an incentive toward its development.

City council approved a memorandum of understanding Monday, Dec. 15, with Delaware-based S.G. Preston Company regarding a $400 million bio-fuel production and processing facility projected to create at least 100 jobs.

The memorandum outlines a forgivable loan the city would provide toward the project totaling $550,000 that the firm would pay back should development not come to fruition.

The funds would be allocated in one installment of $62,500 and two of $31,250 to S.G. Preston Co. The remaining $425,000 would fund the project's engineering costs. According to the memorandum, the firm would choose the engineering company while the engineering report would be the property of the city.

Logansport Mayor Ted Franklin said the city lost about 1,500 jobs in the five years before he became mayor.

"This is another opportunity we can develop from a crisis," he said, adding the estimated cost of the project exceeds Logansport's total assessed value by about $50 million.

City council approved the memorandum of understanding Monday 6-0. Jeremy Ashcraft was not present.

Joe Buck, president of city council, praised the proposed project for its $400 million investment.

Bob Bishop, a councilman, said he supports it for the amount of jobs it would create.

Franklin said S.G. Preston Company is drawn to the four-lane highway in the area, rail and low utility costs expected to result from a power plant project the city is pursuing.

Read the P-T's coverage of the power plant project.

R. Delbert LeTang, founder, chairman and CEO of S.G. Preston Company, said should an agreement be finalized, the Logansport facility would produce renewable bio-diesel or bio-jet fuel from nonfood waste oils. The feedstock would come from multiple sources, he continued, including ethanol production.

LeTang said the firm is drawn to Logansport and the Midwest in general for its manufacturing infrastructure, logistics and available feedstock that would be used in fuel production.

"A lot of those are resonant in the Midwest," LeTang said. "Logansport has always been at the top of our list because of not only the logistics, but also the willingness of the administration to attract businesses to the area as well as partner with them."

The facility would be about 60 to 100 acres, he said, adding a potential site hasn't yet been determined.

"We'll explore and exhaust all available options," he said. "We think we have a very good idea as to where our facility would be located, but I wouldn't want to speak on that too definitively yet."

LeTang couldn't estimate when construction would start and end, explaining it's too dependent on factors like engineering, acquiring permits and development schedules.

While S.G. Preston Company has yet to develop any facilities, LeTang said it is pursuing 1.2-billion-gallon initiatives for both bio-diesel and bio-jet fuel. He added Logansport is one of several locations the firm is considering for establishing its facilities.

According to the memorandum of understanding, the Logansport facility would have an annual production capacity of 120 million to 400 million gallons.

LeTang assured the technology behind S.G. Preston Company is sound.

"This is not a science experiment for us," he said. "... We're not gambling."

Logansport City Council will hold its second and final vote on the memorandum of understanding at a special meeting scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday, Dec. 29, in the City Council Chambers on the third floor of the City Building, 601 E. Broadway.

Reach Mitchell Kirk at mitchell.kirk@pharostribune.com or 574-732-5130

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