Pictured, Loe Dunn, MEDCO Board Member, Bill Bryan, DG Foods and Kay King, MEDCO CEO
By Ashley Mott
On Tuesday, the Morehouse Economic Development Corporation hosted its annual luncheon, an event which focused primarily on its stated theme “A Parish on the Rise.”
“Morehouse Parish is an outstanding community with great people,” Chairman Leo Nelson said in his opening comments. “The future is bright for this area. I’m very excited to be a part of it.”
A portion of the bright future was highlighted by Gavin Black, plant manager of Morehouse BioEnergy, who served as the program speaker and discussed some of the reasoning behind the decision of Drax Biomass to set up a plant in Morehouse.
Nelson explained that MEDCO commissioned a study of the Morehouse Parish wood basket as part of an examination of how the timber in Morehouse could be utilized after the closure of International Paper and to provide a valuation of the wood.
When Drax first began examining Morehouse Parish and visited the MEDCO offices, this information was available.
Black highlighted the value of the wood basket as a check mark when Drax was determining a plant location along with several other selling points, such as access to rail for shipping pellets to the port of Baton Rouge, infrastructure and access to a well-trained workforce because of International Paper.
“We are very pleased with the quality of employees and the people in the area,” Black said. “There is a very talented workforce.”
As part of the program, the 2015 MEDCO Economic Development Award was presented to DG Foods. Manager Bill Bryant accepted the award on behalf of the owners and employees of the plant and highlighted some statistics about DG. Currently, the plant employees 455 full-time workers and sends out 250 truck loads of chicken per week and has sent out 42,000 truck loads since opening in 2011.
During the luncheon, the Bastrop Daily Enterprise Farm Family of the Year was also presented by LSU AgCenter Extension Agent Terry Erwin to the families of Dan and Barry Turner for their work in row-crop agriculture. A special section recognizing the Turner family will run in the Bastrop Daily Enterprise on Friday, October 2.
A new website for MEDCO, viewable at www.morehouseedc.org, was also unveiled along with a marketing campaign that will endeavor to sell Morehouse Parish to new businesses and potential residents while providing resources to local businesses.