MUNCIE, Ind.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Waelz Sustainable Products LLP (“WSP”) and Muncie city and redevelopment officials announced today an agreement to discontinue efforts to establish operations in Muncie, pending a resolution with the Muncie Redevelopment Commission to acquire the brownfield site. This project would have included a multi-phase revitalization and redevelopment of the decade-long dormant BorgWarner industrial site.
Based on economic incentives from the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, the City of Muncie and the Muncie Redevelopment Commission, WSP planned to invest $75 million in the construction of a state-of-the-art kiln facility to produce zinc oxide from steel mill byproducts. This facility was expected to create 90 new jobs; further, redevelopment would have provided up to an additional 210 new jobs. The proposed project was awaiting its final air permit from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. WSP is a joint venture between Indianapolis-based Heritage Environmental and Monterrey, Mexico-based Zinc Nacional.
"We chose Muncie as a site for this potential project with a sense of partnership with the city and its residents and the strong belief that we could bring meaningful revitalization and value to the community," said Nigel Morrison, Director of WSP. "We made every effort to engage in meaningful dialogue with community leaders, address the concerns of residents and make this project a reality. Unfortunately, a campaign of misinformation tainted the process and ultimately made it impossible for the city council to continue supporting the project.”
Morrison continued, “In agreement with Muncie city and redevelopment officials, we have collectively decided to move on from Muncie. We met or exceeded all environmental regulations, were evaluating enhanced emissions control technologies to implement that would further address stakeholder concerns and believed in the merits of the investment, but the project was never judged fairly nor given the time and unclouded consideration it deserved. While not the outcome we wanted, we wish the City of Muncie and all the hard-working families residing there nothing but the best."
“Identifying and vetting new business opportunities and partnerships that bring economic and civic benefit to our community is vital to the health and future success of Muncie,” said Todd Donati, Director of the Muncie Redevelopment Commission. “This particular investment would have revitalized a decade-old eye sore, helped to address significant existing environmental issues at the site and generated hundreds of jobs in Muncie. I worked with WSP and its partners for more than a year and at no time, including now, did I feel that they would produce any product that would be dangerous to our community or environment. However, the vocal opposition to the facility by many in our city has made clear that this project would never enjoy widespread community support. While this is not the result we had hoped for, we respect the input from our concerned citizens and will continue to seek new opportunities for the redevelopment of the BorgWarner industrial site and new jobs for the City of Muncie.”
“While we are disappointed that we will not be able to bring this development to Muncie, we remain committed to meeting the large demand for safe, reliable facilities to recycle industrial byproducts, and the need for zinc oxide as a valuable component in numerous consumer products (https://www.zinc.org/),” said Eduardo Alverde, CEO of Zinc Nacional. “WSP and its partners take great pride in our operations and doing business in a manner that is safe, environmentally conscious and beneficial to the communities in which we operate around the globe. We look forward to working with a community that will welcome WSP, not only as a source for good paying jobs and substantial tax revenue, but also a committed civic contributor. In every community where we operate, our goal is to be an active and positive corporate citizen and patron of development initiatives focused on education, environmental sustainability, health and the overall welfare of the local community.”
Several other municipalities interested in becoming the future site of the proposed project have reached out to WSP to initiate discussions about immediate efforts to select a new location. Those discussions are underway.
WSP is a joint venture between Zinc Nacional and Heritage Environmental founded in 2018 to service the steel mini-mill industry by providing a sustainable solution for by-products. WSP combines the experience of Zinc Nacional as a pioneer in Waelz Kiln technology, along with the environmental expertise and innovation of Heritage Environmental Services.
About Zinc Nacional
Zinc Nacional is a privately-held, family-owned business based in Monterrey, Mexico with more than 60 years of experience in zinc compound production. Zinc Nacional operates Waelz Kiln technology in the U.S., Mexico, South Korea and Turkey.
About Heritage Environmental Services
Heritage Environmental Services is a privately-held, family-owned business headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana with more than 1,600 creative problem-solving team members across North and Central America. Heritage Environmental Services provides a full suite of tailored solutions – from emergency response, waste disposal, sustainability services, brownfield redevelopment, and on-site support and technical solutions – to thousands of customers in hundreds of industries and verticals.