Optimum Group, through an Arkansas corporation named Southwind Milling Co., is building a rice mill at the Port of Pine Bluff, Arkansas.
Construction of the new mill will begin immediately at 4215 Emmett Sanders Road, in the Pine Bluff Port’s Harbor Industrial District, on property the company purchased in 2013 from the Pine Bluff-Jefferson County Port Authority. The plant will be up and running by February 2015 and will have a capacity of twelve metric tons per hour. A total of 25 jobs will be created initially.
According to the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, Southwind Milling also plans to expand again at the port in the near future, doubling the capacity of this mill and building a rice flour mill. The construction of a port dock within its property is also included in the expansion plan in order to take advantage of direct barge loading capabilities and inland waterways transportation. The group has been farming in Delta states since 2010 and now has decided to grow its business by adding value to its crops.
The group is committed to the economic development of Pine Bluff and has decided to invest a considerable amount of money on this project, according to Ron Craig, Project Manager of Southwind Milling Co. He noted the multi-million-dollar project will have a significant economic impact in Jefferson County while also fostering increased activity at Pine Bluff’s river port.
The Arkansas Economic Development Commission and the Arkansas Development Finance Authority have been very supportive with the group on this project and financed part of the rice mill project, according to Craig. Optimum currently has its operations office on one of its farms in Jefferson County but is planning to move it closer to the rice mill property.
The Economic Development Alliance for Jefferson County and the Pine Bluff-Jefferson County Port Authority began working with company officials in early 2013 when they first toured the port looking for a mill site. “This has been an impressive project from the very beginning,” said Alliance President Lou Ann Nisbett, “and we’ve certainly enjoyed watching it grow in scope. I’m looking forward to seeing Southwind’s new mill take shape and to all the activity it will generate at the port.”