By Steve Hansen
QCS Managing Editor
Current economic development projects that the Greater Tucumcari Economic Development Corporation is working with include a waste-to-energy plant and providing assistance to the Tucumcari Mountain Cheese Factory’s plans for expansion, Pat Vanderpool, the EDC’s executive director, said.
With some refinements in a feasibility report, local scientist Bob Hockaday and Vanderpool will try again to find grant funds for a project that would extract fuel, fertilizer and carbon dioxide from cattle manure and other organic waste products at Tucumcari’s abandoned ethanol plant, Vanderpool said.
In April, the economic development corporation applied for a $50,000 grant from the USDA to study whether the ethanol plant could host a facility that would convert organic wastes from a variety of sources into useful materials.
Vanderpool and Hockaday said that proposal has been turned back, and both will refine their approach to making a case that the concept is sound and practical.
Hockaday said the proposal may need more independent engineering work and some changes in the business model, such as making it a co-op among farmers and ranchers.
Vanderpool said the project may be eligible for grant funding under the Local Economic Development Act (LEDA) under which funds collected from a city of Tucumcari gross receipts tax can be used to help new businesses start and exisiting businesses to expand.
The economic development corporation has applied for a LEDA grant of $141,830 to assist the Tucumcari Mountain Cheese Factory in financing some water quality measures that will assist in a planned expansion of the cheese factory’s manufacturing plant in Tucumcari.
While that grant application continues, Vanderpool said, the plant has received a visit from Danny Armijo, innovation director for the New Mexico Manufacturer Extension Partnership, to discuss other ways to help the cheese factory expand.
The cheese factory’s $4 million expansion is expected to result in 10 to 12 permanent jobs averaging $10.50 per hour in wages, Vanderpool said. During construction, the cheese factory will pay $262,080 in wages, and in operation, the expanded plant will provide payroll additions between $218,400 and $262,080 per year, according to the grant application.
The ethanol plant’s waste-to-energy conversion may bring revenues of $2.4 million for methane products, including a diesel-fuel substitute; $1.6 million from carbon dioxide; and $80,000 from fertilizers. Costs directly related to production are expected to be a little less than $2 million, resulting in gross profits of $2 million a year, about 51 percent of revenues.
Other projects, Vanderpool said, include, among others:
• A joint venture with Mesalands Community College to build an eqeustrian arena and special events center.
• A “real properties incentive project” that has four potential clients, including a legal services company, a salon, a naturopathy business and a small manufacturer that plans to start with assembly, then also include metal fabrication.
• A home rehabilitation and ownership workshop on Sept. 16.
• The Pure Energy Expo, focusing on renewable energy, at the Tucumcari Convention Center on Nov. 16.