The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

$300 million biofuels plant in Ontonagon 'imminent'


April 12, 2018

Jan Tucker/Daily Globe

The Ontonagon County EDC met Wednesday and heard that the announcement of a SynSel biofuel plant in Ontonagon is "imminent." EDC members from left are Tom Poisson, Pat Tucker, Nancy Hillier, Sue Preiss and Skip Schulz.


Ontonagon - The announcement of a $300 million biofuel plant to be located in Ontonagon is "imminent," the Ontonagon County Economic Development Corporation was told Wednesday.

Pat Tucker, a member of the EDC, President of Lost Bowl, who owns the land on which the former Smurfit-Stone Paper mill was located, said SynSel Energy of Elmhurst Ill. has the firm commitment of all the funds for the project and has closed on most of them and is now in the process of the final closing.

He said engineering for the plant will take about 14 months but site work and utility work can begin while the engineering is being done.

In a previous announcement, Tucker said the plant is expected to produce 250 direct and indirect jobs. Tucker said SynSel officials will come to Ontonagon for a meeting with the community when the final closing is complete.

EDC member Skip Schullz pressed Tucker on any action taken to begin efforts to return rail service to Ontonagon. Rail service to the mill site was torn out and is now a snowmobile trail. Schulz said planning an alternate route for a snowmobile trail is a long process and discussions should begin soon. Tucker said he has talked indirectly a few years ago with the governor's office, DNR and MDOT but once the project is started, he would use his energy to work on the return of the rails. EDC member Tom Poisson added he had talked to some state officials who said they did not think there would be a problem getting the rail lines back.

In other action EDC President Sue Preiss said the promoter of a new restaurant and pizza place in Silver City, Two Loons, has restructured its proposed loan from the Revolving Loan Fund from $82,000 to $101,000. A public hearing on the proposal will be held Tuesday at the Ontonagon County Board of Commissioners Meeting at 4 p.m. The restaurant will be located in the former Foothills Restaurant building in Silver City.


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