Authority members tour Meredian, DaniMer

Published 6:46 pm Friday, May 29, 2009

Following a brief board meeting on May 21, Bainbridge-Decatur County Development Authority members trekked to Meredian and DaniMer manufacturing facilities for tours.

Chief Executive Officer Daniel Carraway, DaniMer President S. Blake Lindsey and Meredian Vice President of Manufacturing Michael Smith showed the Authority board members the progress the sister companies are making on their facilities.

Meredian is leasing its building from the Development Authority, in a relatively short period of time, has pumped in approximately $60,000 for renovations to the old American Fibers and Yarns building located on U.S. 27 North.

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The ultimate investment Meredian is forecast to make could exceed $30 million.

“We’re very proud of what we’ve accomplished in the last few weeks,” Lindsey said.

DaniMer is finishing up its 18,750-square-foot manufacturing facility, which the company broke ground on in January. That facility is south of Meredian in a completely new series of buildings located behind the Coca-Cola building located on U.S. 27 North.

Carraway said the company was within days of beginning to manufacture its first batches of polymers, which DaniMer produces from byproducts of agricultural products such as cotton, soybean and other crops.

Both companies will produce biopolymers—or smaller than BB-sized pellets—that are biodegradable and petroleum-free materials used by other companies to manufacture coatings, wrappings and other products.

DaniMer’s produces engineered polymers that are renewable-based and biodegradable for use in a wide range of applications, including single-use food service articles such as beverage cups, food packaging materials such as films, coatings and laminates, as well as products used in agriculture and horticulture end-use applications.

Meredian also will produce renewable-based and biodegradable engineered polymers, but through a fermentation process.

Both DaniMer and Meredian are world leaders in the innovation and manufacturing of these polymers.

For Meredian, even though it’s a small portion of the 185,000-square-foot building, the Bainbridge-based company has already added a handsome conference room that is used by company representatives to talk with prospective customers, and has added fermentators and other equipment that will be used toward its cutting-edge technology.

In fact, in a room where some food-grade welding is taking place for its fermenters, Smith said when the company took over the building, there was approximately 1 inch of grease on the floor.

DaniMer, Meredian

DaniMer, a limited liability corporation founded in 2004 by Carraway, is focused on “functionalizing” its biopolymers so that customers can use them in their products, such has film coatings, said Lindsey.

Meredian, a Bainbridge-based C corporation founded three years later, uses a different biopolymer that is made from a fermentation process. It will take plant-based oils to feed its “bugs,” which are Meredian’s naturally occurring bacteria. These bacteria then store the biopolymer, which Meredian then extracts for its pellets. These pellets will then be shipped throughout the world to be used for a wide array of products, Lindsay said.

Meredian has more 300 patents worldwide, which are not only on the actual materials, but on the application and composition of material patents, Lindsey said.

Smith added in a note to The Post-Searchlight, “The relationship (between the Development Authority and DaniMer and Meredian) has been beneficial to the county with the addition of jobs and has been beneficial to DaniMer and Meredian with land to build buildings and with “ready to use” buildings for rent. We are grateful to Rick McCaskill, Jon McRae and the rest of the Development Authority for working with us to create an atmosphere where we can focus on the products and job additions while they focus on providing infrastructure. We would not be where we are now without their help.”