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Continental Refining Co. breaks ground in Somerset

By Crystal Staley/Brandon Mattingly

Frankfort, KY - On Tuesday, December 21, 2021, Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman and local and state officials joined executives from Continental Refining Co. to break ground on the company's new soybean crushing, biodiesel refining and blending facility in Somerset, a project creating 20 full-time jobs with a $26.8 million investment.

Today's groundbreaking comes a month after CRC announced the reopening of the Somerset refinery following a closure of more than a year. Currently, the company's fuel distribution and bulk lubricant operations include distribution of Phillips 66 products and on-site fueling for retail, commercial and industrial, construction, agriculture and residential customers in Pulaski County and the surrounding region.

"This is a great project for Somerset and Pulaski County. This new operation will create 20 quality jobs in the area while also building on the strong foundation of agritech we have established in our state," Gov. Andy Beshear said. "Projects like this one will help build an economy that works for all Kentuckians for years to come."

"I am thrilled to have the opportunity to join Continental Refining Co. and local leaders today to celebrate the groundbreaking of this significant project in Somerset," Lt. Gov. Coleman said. "CRC has taken the necessary steps to adapt to a changing marketplace, and their business and the local community will benefit as a result. I want to thank CRC's leadership for their commitment to the commonwealth."

In April, CRC announced the new operation at its existing 77-acre site on Refinery Road to provide products that include soy meal, soy oil, soy hulls, biodiesel, ultra-low sulfur diesel, crude glycerin and gasoline, among others. Company leaders expect soybean processing to begin in early 2022, with the operation's new fuels terminal established by next summer. Once fully operational, the facility is expected to process nearly 84,000 tons of soybean per year and generate up to 5 million gallons of biofuel annually. New jobs associated with the project include administrative, sales/marketing and industrial maintenance roles, as well as truck drivers, with 11 of the positions already established.

In August, CRC was awarded a $1.7 million-plus grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture through the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program for activities designed to expand the availability and sale of renewable fuels.

"We are excited for this next chapter for CRC," said Kris Gibson, CRC's general manager and vice president of operations. "The ability to produce biofuels and soy-based products in Somerset will open new markets while providing farmers, CRC's customers, vendors, investors and the community a solid agritech business opportunity that provides a positive economic impact for the entire region."

The Somerset refinery was acquired by Hemisphere Ltd. in 2011 and has since received facility improvements to upgrade the operation's oil refining capabilities. The shift to biofuels and soy-based products opens the company to new markets and provides the company's customers and local farmers with a new agritech business opportunity that provides a positive economic impact throughout the region.

Hemisphere is a Somerset-based management company that maintains assets for business in several industries, such as real estate development, maritime ship management, oil refining, wholesale petroleum storage and distribution, agriculture business, convenience store operations, dairy-fluid milk processing, truck transportation operations and aviation.

CRC's investment and planned job creation furthers recent economic momentum in the commonwealth, as the state builds back stronger in response to the effects of the pandemic.

To encourage investment and job growth in the community, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) in September approved CRC for up to $150,000 in tax incentives through the Kentucky Enterprise Initiative Act (KEIA). KEIA allows approved companies to recoup Kentucky sales and use tax on construction costs, building fixtures, equipment used in research and development and electronic processing.

In addition, CRC can receive resources from Kentucky's workforce service providers. Those include no-cost recruitment and job placement services, reduced-cost customized training and job-training incentives.

This story was posted on 2021-12-21 17:33:47
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