Steuben County Council approves $1.5M loan to Ashley
By Mike Marturello | KPC Media - The Herald Republican
The Steuben County Council approved lending the town of Ashley $1.5 million to potentially use for infrastructure that will serve RES Polyflow on Tuesday.
Steuben County and Ashley officials have been working with RES Polyflow since late 2015 on possibly siting a plant on bare ground near Ashley on land owned by Wayne Klink near his Klink Industries facility on C.R. 800S at Interstate 69.
Funding for the innovative facility that will employ some 136 people has finally come through and the company is working toward construction. Last week it was announced that Brightmark Energy, a San Francisco-based renewable energy development company, has acquired a majority interest and invested $10 million in the plastics-to-fuel technology company, RES Polyflow, while committing to an additional $47 million investment in the first commercial-scale plant to utilize this technology.
RES Polyflow is an Ohio-based energy technology company that innovated the process for converting plastics directly into transportation fuel and other products, on the creation of a platform for developing future plastics-to-fuel projects.
“They need a commitment so they can keep this going,” said Rick Shipe, president of the council.
The loan will be used by Ashley to put in a street, railroad crossing and utilities to accommodate RES Polyflow and possible future development. The money would be used as a 50-50 match for a possible federal grant. If the grant falls through, Ashley will bond for the other half of the money needed for the infrastructure, said Karen McEntarfer, Ashley clerk-treasurer. McEntarfer said it was estimated cost of the infrastructure was $2.9 million.
“The purpose of this loan was to help Ashley with the infrastructure of their industrial park. It is not about RES Polyflow, who had already paid off their county loan as well as $100,000 in interest. Although RES Polyflow will benefit, it is far more reaching to future of Steuben County and the Ashley Industrial Park,” said Lynne Liechty, a county commissioner who has been working closely with RES Polyflow and Ashley on the project.
Some council members said the loan request lacked documentation normally associated with a loan. The request was approved by the Steuben County Board of Commissioners.
Shipe pointed out that by the time the money would have to be provided to Ashley, all of the documentation necessary to fulfill the loan requirements would be most likely be in order.
Some council members characterized the request as last minute, though it had been discussed in the past and was on the council’s radar.
Councilwoman Linda Hansen said it was important to have the necessary paperwork in order, “but I am putting my faith in Karen (McEntarfer). I just place my faith in her.
The loan to Ashley will be paid at 2 percent interest. McEntarfer said she expects the loan to be repaid in eight years.
When RES Polyflow came calling in late 2015 and early 2016, the company received $1.5 million in a loan from the county to help with seed money to get financing for the project. Initially a low interest loan, the money was paid back in October. That included $100,875 in interest because the loan had not been repaid while it was under terms as interest free.
Prior to the loan being repaid, RES Polyflow and Ashley officials asked both the commissioners and the council that the same amount, $1.5 million, be loaned to Ashley to fund infrastructure.
Both boards indicated such a deal was possible, as long as RES Polyflow repaid its loan.
Ken Wilson, president of contractor JICI Inc., Angola, said it is possible that if everything falls into place, ground breaking for the facility could happen on April 1.