Construction is moving forward on a new state-of-the-art facility to serve the region's agriculture community at the Paducah-McCracken County Riverport Authority's bulk terminal complex.

The riverport authority and one is its customers, Southern FS, ceremonially broke ground earlier this summer on the new fertilizer-handling facility. The two parties have a 10-year lease agreement, with the option for an additional 10-year extension, on the new addition.

"It's well underway," said Alan Kirby, Southern FS chief executive officer, of construction. "It looks like it could be very close to finished by the end of November, if we don't have bad weather."

The agreement will "offer our region's agricultural partners a well-established supply chain with Southern FS for our four-state region," said Bill Miller, riverport executive director, of the public-private venture.

Southern FS is a full-service agriculture and energy supplier headquartered in Marion, Illinois. The company operates in 34 counties across Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee and Missouri, according to Kirby.

The new facility will provide Southern FS a more economical way to get fertilizer to its agricultural customers, Kirby said. It replaces the storage facility Southern FS has been leasing at the riverport since 2002.

After bringing fertilizer components into the riverport via barge, "we're going to store them here and blend them in the season the farmer wants them in," Kirby said.

"Blend them and take them straight to the field or to our other locations so customers can get them."

The strategic location of the new facility will aid Southern FS in its efforts to expand in the region and "hopefully, someday Paducah will be the center of our operations instead of (currently being) the southern part," he said.

According to Kirby, the company hopes to expand from 3-4 full-time employees to 8-12.

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