2015 Non-Metro QLICI of the Year Award Recipients

Winner

BlueOak Arkansas

CDEs: National New Markets Fund and Heartland Renaissance Fund
Developer: BlueOak Arkansas LLC
Owner: BlueOak Arkansas LLC
Location: Osceola, Ark.

2015 QLICIs of the Year Awards Non Metro Category Winner, BlueOak Arkansas

National New Markets Fund and Heartland Renaissance Fund win the 2015 Non-Metro QLICI of the Year Award for their investment in BlueOak Arkansas in Osceola, Ark. Equity raised from new markets tax credits (NMTCs) will help finance the development of BlueOak Arkansas, which provides the environmentally sustainable recycling of electronics by converting e-waste into a sustainable source of precious metals to be used for future technologies. Using state-of-the-art plasma furnaces, BlueOak will recover precious metals (gold, copper, silver, palladium) from e-waste, while diverting a significant amount of toxic waste from landfills or unsafe/unhealthy recycling centers.

The facility will have a significant impact on the local community. Deborah La Franchi, president and CEO of National New Markets Fund, said the development will create much-needed jobs for the Osceola community, which suffers from significant economic distress: in 2013, it had 33.9 percent poverty, 21.6 percent unemployment and a median family income of $25,872. The project will create 75 high-quality jobs paying an average wage of more than $50,000 with full benefits. BlueOak has partnered with local agencies, including the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC), to develop hiring strategies to target the local low-income community. BlueOak is also collaborating with Arkansas Northeastern College on a customized workforce training program to prepare local residents for jobs at the new facility.

La Franchi said BlueOak will also have a positive effect on the environment, both locally and internationally. BlueOak is expected to help divert toxic metals from U.S. landfills and keep them from being exported to recycling facilities overseas. Of the e-waste that is recycled, approximately 80 percent is processed in developing countries such as China and India. Recycling in these countries involves workers, often children, who manually pick apart e-waste over open-pit fires to melt the plastic and extract the precious metals. This process is extremely harmful to the environment and the workers' health. BlueOak said its patented technology will create a new global paradigm for treating e-waste. The organization's recycling process uses a technologically advanced plasma furnace which uses superheated gas to destroy organic compounds with far greater efficiency than "conventional" fuel-based smelting, resulting in both lower and cleaner volumes of off-gas. The off-gas is further treated to ensure complete combustion of carbon monoxide to carbon dioxide, to capture particulates and to remove any regulated gas streams before being released into the environment.

"This is a great holistic approach to addressing the community's high poverty and unemployment rates. Not only will there be direct impacts in the community, but the indirect impact of the activity in the area surrounding Osceola will be significant.  The United States needs more innovative approaches to recycling to become more sustainable and reduce our impact on the environment," said Eric Rosen, a 2015 Community Development QLICIs of the Year Awards judge.

Honorable Mention

TDC Cutting Tools / Greenfield Industries

CDEs: Greenville New Markets Opportunity II LLC (GNMO II) and Banc of America CDE
Developer: TDC Greenfield Properties
Owner: TDC Greenfield Properties
Location: Seneca, S.C.

2015 QLICIs of the Year Awards Non Metro Category Honorable Mention, TDC Cutting Tools / Greenfield Industries

Greenville New Markets Opportunity II LLC (GNMO II) and Banc of America CDE  earn honorable mention for the 2015 Non-Metro QLICI of the Year Award for their investment in TDC Cutting Tools, a manufacturing plant in Seneca, S.C. Equity raised from new markets tax credits (NMTCs) will help TDC finance the development of a 47,000-square-foot headquarters, including a 32,000-square-foot administrative office and a 15,000-square-foot, high-speed metals recycling facility.

Tammy Propst, president of Tax Advantage Group LLC, the CDE lender of the development, said the new development will support 348 direct jobs. That includes 302 permanent and 46 construction jobs in a nonmetropolitan area with a 32.8 percent poverty rate. In addition to paying permanent jobs an average wage 121 percent greater than the census tract per-capita income and 221 percent greater than the county's living wage, TDC/Greentech offers a full package of employment benefits.

"This project provides superb job creation with a projected 348 direct jobs and awesome, specific job training and job development strategy," said Dale Royal, a 2015 Community Development QLICIs of the Year Awards judge.

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