Topeka — A biodiesel plant is the latest economic development project announced for Greensburg after a tornado destroyed the town in May.
Torsten Energy LLC and state officials on Monday announced that the firm will construct a new plant in Kiowa County. The plant will eventually employ 20 to 25 people.
"This is terrific news for Kiowa County and for Kansas," said House Minority Leader Dennis McKinney, a Greensburg Democrat whose home was lost in the storm. "The more businesses that commit to building in Greensburg, the sooner hardworking families of our community will be back in town and back in the work force."
Torsten Energy is based in nearby Wright in southwest Kansas. The firm said construction would begin after state regulatory permits were obtained.
"Like many Greensburg recovery efforts, we still have a lot to do before we can actually break ground," said Patrick Stein, a representative of Torsten Energy who is overseeing the development. "Though we are still in the very early stages of development, we are completely committed to this community.
"We want to see Greensburg back on its feet, and we know projects like this are the way to make it happen."
The company will partner with Ball Industrial Services to build the new plant at the Greensburg industrial park.
A tornado struck Greensburg on May 4, taking with it nearly all of its residential and commercial base. The biodiesel plant will be located just outside Greensburg, which had a population of 1,450 before the storm.
Monday's announcement comes in addition to previous decisions by state and federal agencies to provide millions in assistance to Greensburg and area residents.
In a written statement, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius said she was encouraged by the potential for more growth in Greensburg and the benefit to the community and the rest of Kansas.
State officials already have assembled a $17.5 million aid package for recovery from the tornadoes and summer floods in southeast Kansas. Those funds will be used to help residents rebuild their homes and give tax breaks to encourage economic development.
The money would come from what's left over from the $35 million lawmakers approved for disaster relief at the end of their 2007 session. The package will be debated when legislators return to the Statehouse in January.
The U.S. Agriculture Department said it will provide $2 million to help farmers repair land damage caused by the storms.