An international company that produces livestock food supplements expects to pay about $71 million to Calhoun County taxing entities during its first 20 years of operation.

Novus International Inc., a global animal nutrition solutions company, announced its new plant in Calhoun County on Thursday at Victoria Economic Development Corp.'s annual membership meeting.

Company officials said they will invest $360 million in the plant, which will employ up to 600 workers during its peak construction times.

"So why Calhoun County?" said Jeffrey Klopfenstein, president of Novus' methionine business unit. "The talented workforce that we have here, the natural resources ... in Texas, the cost of energy, the cost of natural gas is very competitive globally; the transportation infrastructure, the rail and the barge canal, is fantastic."

The plant will be on the Ineos Nitriles property along SH 185 south of Bloomington. Novus is working in partnership with Ineos, which will operate the new plant, while Novus remains its owner.

Klopfenstein said Novus plans to bring 65 permanent full-time jobs, most of which will be occupied by Ineos workers. Five of the workers will be employed by Novus to provide the technology to produce the company's livestock supplement called Alimet, a liquid form of methionine.

The supplement is used in the agricultural industry to produce healthier livestock and poultry feed, which leads to better-quality animals, Klopfenstein said.

"Cementing the deal is the partnership with Ineos," he said.

The company plans to begin construction on the plant at the start of 2019 and finish by the end of 2020.

During the first 20 years of operation, officials estimate the plant will attract about $9 million in new residential property.

In June 2016, Novus asked Calhoun County for a tax abatement. The county agreed to a 10-year, 100 percent abatement, and Novus agreed to donate $1 million to the county in 2019 and $700,000 in 2021.

During the first 20 years of operations, the Calhoun County Independent School District will receive more than $50 million and the county will receive about $17.4 million in tax benefits, Klopfenstein said.

"That wouldn't otherwise be there if this project doesn't happen," he said.

Port Lavaca Mayor Jack Whitlow said Victoria County as well as Calhoun County will benefit from this project.

"We'll receive some of the immediate tax benefits, but Victoria in the long run is going to receive great benefits from the payroll and the people that live and work around this plant," he said. "It's a great benefit for both of us. It shows what wonderful things the counties can do working together through the VEDC."

James Cowley, Calhoun County ISD superintendent, echoed Whitlow's comments. He said the school district is looking forward to working with Novus officials because they are community- and education-friendly.

"We're always excited for any new business and industry to come to Calhoun County," he said. "It's a benefit for our students and our school district and all of our stakeholders in the community."

Novus owns the largest methionine plant in the world in Brazoria County, Klopfenstein said. The plant in Calhoun County will be about a third of the size of the company's existing Texas plant and will produce more than 100,000 metric tons a year.

In October, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality's executive director approved Novus' request to drill two hazardous waste disposal wells despite receiving a few comments from residents concerned about its environmental impact.

The TCEQ said the hazardous wastes Novus will generate from manufacturing methionine include pyridine, acetonitrile, formic acid, methanol, chlorides, cyanide, phenols and benzene. One of the waste products is a known carcinogen, while others are flammable and explosive, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"We have a really outstanding compliance record in Brazoria County, and we have an outstanding long relationship with the TCEQ," Klopfenstein said. "Long ago, they had a program of training people, (and) they actually sent people into our plant to gain some exposure of what industry is really like."

Nine billion people will live in the world by 2050, and to support this growth, the food production system will have to produce 70 percent more food, Klopfenstein said.

"Someplace in the world, a plant like this needs to be built every 18 months to feed 70 percent more," he said.

Novus officials said they're excited to invest in the Crossroads.

"This is the right project in the right place with the right people," Klopfenstein said.

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Reporter

Kathryn Cargo covers business and agriculture in the Crossroads. She enjoys reporting on industry trends and getting her shoes dirty out in the field.

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