DaniMer to break ground on new building

Published 7:05 am Tuesday, January 27, 2009

DaniMer Scientific LLC will break ground this Thursday for a 18,750-square-foot manufacturing facility to complement its already existing buildings at the Decatur County Industrial Air Park.

During a Bainbridge-Decatur County Development Authority meeting held on Jan. 15, Authority Executive Director Rick McCaskill said DaniMer will break ground for the manufacturing facility, where it will produce the renewable polymers it ships to companies that will use them to produce a wide variety of eco-friendly products.

“I think it’s going to create a little excitement. We need it to create a little excitement because there’s not a lot to get excited about right now.” McCaskill said. “We’re going to make it a ‘feel-good’ for a change with something that’s happening in the economy.”

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DaniMer and the Development Authority closed on the transfer of the property on Jan. 14, said George Floyd, a member of the Authority.

The local company already has offices, polymer development center, three labs and warehouses located on 10.27 acres at the industrial park behind the Coca-Cola Bottling plant off U.S. 27 North.

Scott Tuten, senior vice president for DaniMer, said Monday this is the first manufacturing phase and the second of “many different phases.”

DaniMer presently employs approximately 25 people, a number which Tuten said the company will add to once its manufacturing facility is completed and equipped.

DaniMer was founded in 2004 but its chief executive officer, Daniel Carraway, who has a doctoral in biotechnology, was lead scientist/researcher for International Paper-Southlands for more than 10 years.

The company began operating at the Industrial Park using land leased from the county, a mobile laboratory and a handful of researchers. DaniMer polymers have ended up in a variety of products, from biodegradable hot beverage cups to compostable trash bags, and it customers are in 19 countries, about 30 percent of those in Europe.

DaniMer has a sister company, Meredian, which makes similar polymers using technology purchased from Proctor & Gamble, plans to continue expanding its manufacturing ability.

Railroads an asset

Aubrey Brown, an economic developer with CSX Railroad, and McCaskill said the county has got a lot going for it with its numerous railroads and spur lines.

McCaskill said, “What we’ve got, nobody else has got.”

He said there are numerous spurs off the main line, including one at the county industrial park where a whole train can be taken off the main track at one time and not interfere with other train traffic.

“There’s not hardly any places on the railroad where they can do that, so he really wants us to work closely with him on developing the County Industrial Park with that long rail spur we’ve got in there,” McCaskill said, adding, “We have a tremendous amount of rail spurs.”

Biomass plant on the table

McCaskill acknowledged Monday that Decatur County may still be in the picture for a new biomass power plant that Biomass Gas and Electric had originally planned to build in Tallahassee, Fla. The company announced Friday that it would look to another community for the plant.

The power plant burns wood byproducts that would be sold to Tallahassee for its electric customers, and the plant would have been a $150-million project.

However, the proposed project ran into opposition from some Tallahassee residents near where the plant was to be built.