By Ron VandenBoom
The seemingly endless quest to acquire the necessary funding to erect and operate the long anticipated strawboard plant near Rudyard may receive a shot in the arm thanks to interest from the International Law Group out of Washington D.C.
BioGold Composites, Inc. officials recently hosted two attorneys from the group for a weekend tour of proposed sites for the plant and meetings with community officials, BioGold officers, and StrawCo Co-op board members.
The visit, referred to as a diligence visit by Dick King, executive director of Bear Paw Development Corporation, met with a positive response from the attorneys, he said.
A return visit to review the project, that is now estimated to cost as much as $25 million, is expected from the group in September, he said.
The International Law Group works closely with European investors and with agencies of the U.S. Government to encourage and help expedite investment in American companies in distressed areas that need funds and will preserve or create at least 10 full-time jobs.
The program allows investors to then receive a USA Green Card that will allow them to move to the U.S. with Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) status.
King explained that the U.S. is very attractive to foreign investment because our economy is good and our government is stable.
A major reason the group came to Montana was to learn how much community support there was for the project, King said, adding that they were pleased with the response they received during their visit.
BioGold is now being looked at by serious investors, King said.
Steve Brownlee, a member of StrawCos board of directors, said he was optimistic about the visit and the group was enthusiastic about the proposed project.
Brownlee was slightly less exuberant when describing the growth of StrawCo Co-op, and said that it was coming along slowly. He added that most farmers were busy right now working their fields and StrawCo had not yet made a major push to sign them up.
He said that Rudyard was ready for BioGold to begin construction. Everything is in place for the sale of the land, he said.
The Rudyard Commercial Club has gone to the land owners and helped put together the option so its ready when BioGold is, he said.
The community of Chester may have added a late wrinkle to the plant proposal by suggesting BioGold look at their industrial park north of the community as a possible site for the plant.
We have been talking it over ever since the first meeting in Hingham, said Liberty County Commissioner Pete Woods.
Woods explained that delays in the start of the BioGold project led some community leaders to suspect it might be having problems getting off the ground and rather than see the project fold altogether, Chester decided to make the alternate proposal.
We dont want to take anything away from Rudyard, Woods said. We just wanted to make sure that somebody got the plant rather than nobody getting it.
Woods emphasized that it is important the two communities work together to make the plant a reality. He said the only commitment they have made with BioGold is to cooperate in any way possible.
The process of approving applications, finding investors, and leaping through government hoops, will take the Law Group at least six months to complete before any investment money is expected. This will push the start-up date for the beginning of plant construction to sometime after April 2000.