By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

GRAPELAND – During a meeting of the Grapeland Noon Lions Club, an update was provided on the planned Darling Ingredients Inc. facility set to open in Grapeland during the first part of 2019.

According to the company’s website, “Darling Ingredients, Inc. (NYSE: DAR) is a global developer and producer of sustainable natural ingredients from edible and inedible bio-nutrients.”

“As most of you know, we have a new plant coming in and that is Darling Ingredients,” Grapeland Mayor Balis Dailey said.

Dailey said one of the benefits of bringing Darling Ingredients to the city would be an increase in revenues from ad valorem taxes.

“This is a $45 million project with construction jobs coming in to help with that $45 million. When they (construction workers) leave, we will have somewhere in the neighborhood of somewhere around $30 million on the tax rolls,” he said.

It is anticipated the facility will create 63 to 65 jobs for the local economy, Dailey remarked.

“These will be jobs that pay higher than minimum wage. There will be 12 administrators and 24 technical people,” he said.  “The actual plant itself will sit on about three and a half acres. There will be an administration building along with a maintenance shop for the trucks and a second shop for all the equipment on the inside. It is highly technical and mechanized.”

The mayor said while Darling will bring in two current employees to run the plant “… they would like to hire the remaining 61 or 62 positions from our local area.”

He explained the 24 technical positions he referenced earlier would be running the mechanized equipment. The other positions include mechanics, production workers, equipment operators and a certified Texas Commission on Environmental Quality operator.

“Overall, when you see the outcomes of this for the economic development of Grapeland – I think you will find out – I’ll just go ahead and tell you this will probably be the greatest thing that has happened to us since we became a city,” Dailey said.

“Between working with Nucor and this company – and the hope we can get some more (companies) – I think the light we can see in growth has the potential to be very high and very prominent,” he indicated.

He said the interest in Darling Ingredients began when poultry producer Sanderson Farms began to expand in the area.

Dailey explained with the construction of a chicken rendering facility in the Tyler area, Sanderson Farms was looking at a possible solution of what to do with the by-products left over from the rendering process.

These leftover ingredients will be used to make candy, perfume, bio-diesel and other products used in everyday life. This is where the Darling Ingredients plant comes into play, Dailey indicated.

“This is one of the cleanest facilities you will ever see in your life. Everything is in white, everything is taken care of and there is no contamination. Once the product comes out, it is so pure, it is highly regulated. It has to be because it is used in edible products,” Dailey said.

He added members of the Grapeland Economic Development Corporation, along with County Judge Jim Lovell and Precinct One County Commissioner Gary Lovell, had toured a facility almost identical to the proposed Grapeland facility and came away very impressed.

“We are going to have one of the best plants available in the United States, South America or Europe,” he said.

“From this moment in time,” Dailey asserted, “it will be about 18 months before their contracts require them to produce products to send out the door.”

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.