Agritech project creating 20 full-time jobs with $26.8 million investment
UPDATE POSTED 4 P.M. DEC. 21, 2021
SOMERSET, Ky. (WTVQ) – Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman and local and state officials joined executives from Continental Refining Co. to break ground Tuesday on the company’s new soybean crushing, biodiesel refining and blending facility in Somerset, a project creating 20 full-time jobs with a $26.8 million investment.
“This is a great project for Somerset and Pulaski County. This new operation will create 20 quality jobs in the area while also building on the strong foundation of agritech we have established in our state,” Gov. Andy Beshear said. “Projects like this one will help build an economy that works for all Kentuckians for years to come.”
“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to join Continental Refining Co. and local leaders today to celebrate the groundbreaking of this significant project in Somerset,” Lt. Gov. Coleman said. “CRC has taken the necessary steps to adapt to a changing marketplace, and their business and the local community will benefit as a result. I want to thank CRC’s leadership for their commitment to the commonwealth.”
In April, CRC announced the new operation at its existing 77-acre site on Refinery Road to provide products that include soy meal, soy oil, soy hulls, biodiesel, ultra-low sulfur diesel, crude glycerin and gasoline, among others. Company leaders expect soybean processing to begin in early 2022, with the operation’s new fuels terminal established by next summer. Once fully operational, the facility is expected to process nearly 84,000 tons of soybean per year and generate up to 5 million gallons of biofuel annually. New jobs associated with the project include administrative, sales/marketing and industrial maintenance roles, as well as truck drivers, with 11 of the positions already established.
In August, CRC was awarded a $1.7 million-plus grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture through the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program for activities designed to expand the availability and sale of renewable fuels.
Today’s groundbreaking comes a month after CRC announced the reopening of the Somerset refinery following a closure of more than a year. Currently, the company’s fuel distribution and bulk lubricant operations include distribution of Phillips 66 products and on-site fueling for retail, commercial and industrial, construction, agriculture and residential customers in Pulaski County and the surrounding region.
“We are excited for this next chapter for CRC,” said Kris Gibson, CRC’s general manager and vice president of operations. “The ability to produce biofuels and soy-based products in Somerset will open new markets while providing farmers, CRC’s customers, vendors, investors and the community a solid agritech business opportunity that provides a positive economic impact for the entire region.”
The Somerset refinery was acquired by Hemisphere Ltd. in 2011 and has since received facility improvements to upgrade the operation’s oil refining capabilities. The shift to biofuels and soy-based products opens the company to new markets and provides the company’s customers and local farmers with a new agritech business opportunity that provides a positive economic impact throughout the region.
Hemisphere is a Somerset-based management company that maintains assets for business in several industries, such as real estate development, maritime ship management, oil refining, wholesale petroleum storage and distribution, agriculture business, convenience store operations, dairy-fluid milk processing, truck transportation operations and aviation.
CRC’s new operation builds on Kentucky’s thriving logistics and distribution industry, which employs nearly 80,000 people at approximately 590 facilities statewide. Since the start of 2020, companies within the sector announced more than 2,700 full-time, Kentucky-resident jobs across more than 50 facility expansions and new-location projects with $440 million in private-sector investment in the commonwealth.
Pulaski County Judge/Executive Steve Kelley commended Hemisphere CEO Demetrios Haseotes and his team for their commitment to the region and its workforce.
“I am so very proud of Continental Refinery Co. for achieving this milestone. Mr. Haseotes and his dedicated staff have invested a lot of hard work, time and resources to get to this point,” Judge/Executive Kelley said. “As county judge/executive, I want to see all of our local businesses prosper, and when they do, I want to celebrate their victories with them. I am thankful that CRC has chosen Pulaski County as its base of operations, and I am thankful to the Cabinet for Economic Development for assisting them in reaching their goals. I look forward to many years of having a great partnership with CRC, and for many years of continued success.”
Somerset Mayor Alan Keck said the project is a major win for the community.
“Investing in a crude oil refinery is wonderful in its own right, but reimagining its purpose and transforming it into a state-of-the-art agritech facility makes this project even more special,” Mayor Keck said. “This is a home run for regional soybean farmers and generates another outstanding opportunity for our people to stay in Somerset and work for a strong, sustainable company. I am incredibly thankful for Continental Refining Co.’s commitment to and investment in our community.”
Somerset-Pulaski Economic Development Authority President and CEO Chris Girdler welcomed the reopening of CRC and the company’s long-term plans.
“Demetrios Haseotes and his team at CRC have demonstrated incredible determination to see this project through to fruition,” Girdler said. “We are excited to see this historic entity back up and running again in the Capital of Lake Cumberland. Thanks to all those throughout the region and state for their support and helping us to see continued record-breaking investment in Somerset and Pulaski County.”
To encourage investment and job growth in the community, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) in September approved CRC for up to $150,000 in tax incentives through the Kentucky Enterprise Initiative Act (KEIA). KEIA allows approved companies to recoup Kentucky sales and use tax on construction costs, building fixtures, equipment used in research and development and electronic processing.
In addition, CRC can receive resources from Kentucky’s workforce service providers. Those include no-cost recruitment and job placement services, reduced-cost customized training and job-training incentives.