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Tampa puts its name on up to $350 million in bonds, clearing way for massive paper fiber plant

The recycling plant, which will sit on nearly 38 acres, has not broken ground yet.
Credit: 10 Tampa Bay

TAMPA, Fla — Tampa City Council has taken a major step toward clearing the way for a massive paper recycling plant that will be located at Port Tampa Bay.

Council members voted unanimously to put Tampa’s name on up to $350 million dollars in bonds for Celadon Development Corporation, to fund a massive paper fiber manufacturing facility at Port Tampa Bay. 

“We’ve been very delighted with the support that we’ve gotten from the community,” said Celadon CEO Tim Zosel.

The city is helping Celadon by issuing what are called conduit bonds, which are tax-free because they’re issued by a municipality.

But in this case, the city and Celadon have also entered a side agreement that keeps taxpayers off the hook. 

“The city will have no obligation to repay the bond,” said Deputy City Attorney Morris Massey. “And celadon has agree to indemnify the city from any such obligation.”

Celadon plans to recycle paper products and then ship most of it to Asia.

The recycling plant, which will sit on nearly 38 acres, hasn’t broken ground yet but should move forward now with this commitment secured.

“It’s critical to completing that financing,” said Zosel, “And allowing us to create approximately 300 jobs in the Tampa area on our first date with this project.”

That 300 jobs figure is three times the number that had been thrown around in some earlier discussions.

Still, a massive paper plant often raises concerns from neighbors when it comes to pollution and odor. 

“I’m concerned about what we’re inhaling. What we’re breathing,” said Joseph Gonzalez, who live just a few blocks from the port. “What they’re burning. We don’t know if it’s safe or not.”

Port Tampa Bay has been assured those issues won’t be a problem. The facility, it says, is state of the art.

In fact, when it comes to pollution, local leaders say the recycling plant will even use treated wastewater for its operations, keeping that from entering Tampa Bay.

“I’m very excited, not only about the employees which will be hiring but also about the environmental attributes of your systems and your process,” said Tampa Councilman John Dingfelder.

With many people disposing of more paper and cardboard than ever, the city says the timing for the Celadon project couldn’t be better.

The facility, once operational, would be capable of producing as much as 40,000 containers of recycled paper product each year.

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