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DERAILED: Montclair’s fourth investor backs out; Jellico rail spur project on hold

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By PETER SAWYER

Two years and four investment groups have failed to put an oil refinery in the former Taylor Machine Shop in Jellico. But Michael Williams, CEO of Montclair Technology, LLC, wants to bring an oil refinery to Campbell County—and by doing so employ up to 50 people. He likes the people in Campbell County, he said, “I’m excited about working with them. They’ve laid out the red carpet for me.”
Williams saw the Taylor Machine Shop as the potential site for a used motor oil refinery more than two years ago. The town of Jellico leased the building to Montclair from Dec. 2010 to May 2012. Campbell County applied for a $520,000 Appalachian Regional Commission Grant to build a rail spur on its land adjacent to the Taylor Machine Shop to provide it with railroad access.
“The county’s best thing if they ever want to sell the building is to put a rail spur in,” Williams said.
Bringing the oil refinery to Jellico will cost Williams $23.5 million, he said. Over the past two years, Williams has worked with four different investment groups—Spirus, Ranch Capital, Triad and Kazakhstan-based MDM Muniy to develop the site for business.
“I’ve had people commit to fund it four times, and they’ve all backed out,” Williams said.
During the winter, the Campbell County Commission and Jellico Board of Mayor and Aldermen signed non-binding letters of intent with Montclair and Williams, who expressed intentions to purchase the Taylor Machine Shop and the county’s adjacent property.
The county was ready to begin construction on the rail spur.
But Muniy recently stopped financing Montclair because of the revenue lost in the Cyprus banking crisis.
“It’s kind of put on a 60-day hold to see if he (Williams) can come up with alternative financing,” County Mayor William Baird said.
“The reason they (MDM Muniy) pulled out, they had all their money in Cyprus,” Williams said.
MDM Muniy lost a lot of revenue due to the Cyprus banking crisis, and was forced to abandon its venture with Montclair in Campbell County, Williams said.
Williams currently isn’t leasing the Taylor Machine Shop.
“He has no right to the building,” Jellico Mayor Les Stiers said. “The only thing he may hold is the permits,” which puts Williams’ plans in jeopardy.
“If somebody came in tomorrow and said ‘I want to buy that building,’ my project would be dead in Jellico,” Williams said. “It wouldn’t be dead in Tennessee, but it would be dead in Jellico.”
But Williams still wants to come to Jellico and continues to look for investors everyday.
“I’ve got other people on the line,” Williams said. “We’re gonna make this happen. I’m dedicated to it.”