Fertilizer facility project will benefit riverport, agriculture

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The Paducah-McCracken County Riverport Authority announced plans for a new fertilizer-handling facility Wednesday in a lease agreement with Southern FS headquartered in Marion, Ill.

The Paducah-McCracken County Riverport Authority has reached a lease agreement for the construction and operation of a new fertilizer-handling facility which will significantly upgrade its services for the agriculture industry.

According to Bill Miller, riverport executive director, the 10-year lease -- with an additional 10-year extension option -- is a multi-million dollar project with Southern FS to construct a state-of-the-art fertilizer handling facility within the riverport's bulk terminal complex.

The agreement will allow the riverport to "continue to offer our region's agriculture partners a well-established supply chain with Southern FS for our four-state region. We are excited to continue the relationship (with Southern FS) through this hybrid public-private venture."

The new structure will replace the current aging facility that was becoming difficult to repair. In July, the riverport advertised for proposals for the construction, lease and operation of the new facility. Sealed bids were opened during a public meeting in August.

The new facility is expected to be complete in May 2019. It "will allow us to operate at a higher capacity and ensure a continued supply of fertilizer products to local customers and others throughout the region," said Alan Kirby, Southern FS manager.

Southern FS is full-service agriculture and energy supplier headquartered in Marion, Illinois. It operates in 34 counties across Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee and Missouri.

The new terminal is adjacent to a fertilizer solution terminal, owned by Growmark. Southern FS is part of the Growmark system, which provides agriculture and energy products for its FS members.

"This project is in a strategic location for us and supports our efforts to maintain reliable access to fertilizer for our customers," Kirby said.

Glen Anderson, Paducah Economic Development interim president/CEO, called the agreement "another major success not only for the riverport but for our community. Paducah's location is ideal for the river industry, and the success of this industry is vital for our economy."

The upgraded facility will work in tandem with the riverport's new material-handling crane purchased last year, Miller said.

Fertilizer companies that have distribution centers in the region can store their product at the riverport and deliver (by truck) to farmers 50-60 miles away, he added.

"They can utilize the river to transport in bulk to reach areas where there are no waterways available."

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