In the News

Early Plant Breaks Ground

BLAKELY – The development of 2 Kings Petroleum LLC in the Blakely INdustrial Development Park here may be one of the most eclectic business partnerships in the state. But that matters little to the people in this economically depressed community.

Their concerns are in the numbers: numbers like a $10 million initial investment, 100 job openings in the first year and up to 200 in the second, an additional $15 million in Phase 2 and 3 capital investment and, maybe best of all, $75.9 million in projected sales.

The 2 Kings Petroleum development plan, part of the aptly-named "Samaritan Initiative," is a collaborative partnership between Blessings Ministries Community Development Corp. of Monroe, Ga., the Early County 2055 economic revitalization project, the Blakely-Early County Development Authority and PHoenix Petroleum LLC.

Worldwide investor Ataollah Masoodzadehgan of Dubai, United Arab Emirates, the president of Phoenix Petroleum, said he hopes to interest other plants in locating in Early County.

"It is thrilling to be one of the anchor companies in the Samaritan Initiative," Masoodzadehgan said during a recent groundbreaking at the industrial park. "Working with the Blessings Ministry and Early County 2055 has been very fulfilling, and we are looking forward to a long and profitable relationship."

Officials with Blessings Ministries, a nonprofit, faith-based agency, said it too was looking for a long-term relationship with Early County.

"This is one of a number of interrelated industrial, business and residential development projects targeted for Early County that will enhance the area's quality of life," Bishop Larry Abernathy, president/CEO of Blessings Ministries, said.

Plans for 2 Kings Petroleum include distribution, production and mixing of petroleum and biofuels. Phases 2 and 3 of the business plan call for development to coincide with the completion and opening of the First United Ethanol LLC biodiesel plant in Mitchell County, according to Early County 2055 Project Manager Lisa Collins.

"It's a well-thought-out plan," she said Monday afternoon. "The company will offer jobs, but they won't all be the same kinds of jobs. There will be different employment opportunities.

"This community is really encouraged by this economic news. We've said all along we're one of Georgia's best-kept secrets, but what has set us apart from other small communities is the vision of our leaders. We feel once we bring a prospect here, they'll be impressed with what we have to offer."

A friend of Collins' in Columbus suggested that Blessings Ministries and Phoenix Petroleum look into Early County as a potential location for development, and that, according to Early County 2055 Executive Director Barton Rice, was the first of many "dominoes" to fall into place.

"From that relationship, interested investors were made aware of what we're trying to do in the county," Rice, whose father – a Blakely native – initially funded Early County 2055 through his Atlanta-based Charles and Catherine B. Rice Foundation, said while on his way to Atlanta Monday evening. "That got us the first call, but the key was what (investors) saw when they started to look at us.

"We think we've got a lot to like. We have a well thought out (development) plan, and there are a lot of attractive things here for businesses like this looking to develop in places a little out of the way. I think this will put us on the radar of a lot more companies. Phoenix has contracts with a number of companies, and they're trying to get those companies interested in coming here."

Collins said 2 Kings Petroleum was a perfect storm of a development opportunity.

"It's a perfect mix of a diverse group that could very well be the key to helping us realize our (development) efforts," she said. "This is what this community has been needing for a long time."