Biofuel company to invest $4 million into Sparta

SPARTA, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – A biofuel company is breathing life back into Sparta.

Duckweed USA considers Sparta’s waste water treatment plant a gold mine. The company’s CEO, Michael Rigolizzo, fell in love with the city during a business trip about three years ago. He wants to renovate the treatment facility and use the duckweed at the plant to create biofuel. He’s also going to give some of the profit back to the city.

“When you come into Hancock it says ‘Hancock: The hidden jewel of Georgia,'” said longtime Sparta resident Velma Hunt.

The county’s residents and the city’s mayor know how special the city is, but now Duckweed USA knows it as well.

“Finally, I’m looking at my future to be very secure,” explained Hunt.

Hancock County is commonly known as one of the poorest in the state.

“All of our factory jobs [went] off shore, [the] furniture factory closing, the wood yards closing. This brings hope,” said Sparta Mayor William Evans Jr.

Duckweed USA will use the city’s waste water treatment plant to create biofuel. Rigolizzo plans to invest $4 million and give the city one third of its profits.

“I made a promise to the mayor and it’s taken me almost three years to fulfill it, but that was that I wouldn’t take any money from the city. We would get this done without taking money away from a city that needed help,” said Rigolizzo.

Residents are calling Duckweed USA’s project a blessing.

“I look forward to the next two or three years seeing Sparta 360, flip. The opportunity for my children to be able to do something bioeconomic, I think is just wonderful,” said Hunt.

It’s a chance for a struggling to regain its footing. All thanks to a little green plant.

Duckweed USA plans to create 8-12 jobs in the beginning phase, 50 jobs by the end of 2016 and about 250 within the next five years. The company is open to partnering with Middle Georgia schools and colleges to provide more opportunities for students.

Categories: Hancock County, Local News

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