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Camilla Ethanol Plant files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection

Photo by Alex Friedman

Photo by Alex Friedman

CAMILLA, Ga. -- It's a scenario he'd rather not see play out, but the vice chairman of the Mitchell County Development Authority says he's cautiously optimistic that Mitchell County will come through on good footing when its ethanol plant comes out of bankruptcy proceedings.

Vice Chairman Joe Bostick said in an interview with The Herald on Thursday he and the other members of the Mitchell County Development Authority have had little opportunity to sort through Southwest Georgia Ethanol LLC's Chapter 11 Bankruptcy petition, let alone measure any potential fallout.

But after conversations with Mitchell County Administrator Bennett Adams, Bostick said he is optimistic that the decision to file bankruptcy is one that was calculated and strategically made to help the company emerge as a plant that is more profitable.

"Right now, preliminarily speaking, from our perspective it appears that things are going to be OK," Bostick said. "We'll really have to see how things play out over time, but I believe that this is a financial mechanism that will help (the plant) come through as a better company on the other side."

The Mitchell County Development Authority financed $8.6 million in revenue bonds for SWGE to help get the ethanol plant off the ground.

The bonds are the largest outstanding liability on the property outside of the $92 million that was financed from a group of banks to get the 100 million-gallon-per-year facility built.

In its petition, the company listed assets of $164.7 million and debts of $134.1 million.

SWGE had revenue of $168.9 million for the fiscal year that ended in September. The net loss for the year was $2.2 million. For the three months ended in December, the net loss was $2 million, the company said.

The company blamed financial problems on the high price of corn compared with the price for ethanol.

The plant also had operational difficulties, resulting from construction and design problems, the company said in court filings.

SGWE is owned by First United Ethanol LLC.