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Macon-Bibb Brightmark project pushing up daisies


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MACON, Ga. (WGXA)-- What was once a promising deal between Macon-Bibb and a California tech company has officially fallen through.

WGXA covered this story from the very beginning, starting with the initial announcement last June.

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Almost a year later, the only moves made between the two parties were to get further apart.

The Macon-Bibb Industrial Authority has officially terminated its agreement with Brightmark, The SanFrancisco-based company that promised to bring middle Georgia into the future.

The company's shiny facade, with images of children, ocean life, and volunteer beach cleanups, touted the possibility of clean energy created by melting used plastic.

Brightmark first announced its intentions to bring in jobs and revenue by building one of its "plastic renewal" plants in Macon last June. Months later, as the Macon-Bibb Industrial Authority considered welcoming the company with open arms, local environmentalists lined up to take turns blasting its reputation.

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The Georgia Water Coalition then published a list that placed Middle Georgia's Ocmulgee river among other natural resources threatened by pollution, pointing to Brightmark as the biggest risk.

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The location Brightmark wanted to build in Macon would have only been the company's second plant. The first one, in Ashley, Indiana, caught fire before it was operational.

That fact seemed to be a concern for our local officials.

In the written agreement between Brighmark and the Industrial Authority, the company promised to have the Ashley plant in operation by the first of the year. In an effort to demonstrate that the process was safe and, that it worked at all.

Brightmark wasn't able to prove that by the deadline.

That failure was enough for Mayor Lester Miller to write a letter pulling his support for the project, stating: "We cannot ignore the long-term safety concerns of this unproven process."

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Five days later, the industrial authority followed suit and sent in their termination notice.

The letters were written back in January of 2022. It took until April 5 for the lawyers to finish drawing up the official termination agreement.

Brightmark attempted to save the deal by sending the Industrial Authority 100 thousand dollars for a deadline extension.

But, after Miller withdrew and with a lack of support from the public, the whole thing fell apart anyway, leaving Macon-bibb to keep its money and its land.

Brightmark's CEO, Bob Powell, used to run a similar business, "Blue Earth," which was shut down after a federal agency sued for fraud.

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When contacted for comment on the most recent development, Powell's team said they'd come to a mutual agreement to part ways with Macon-Bibb.

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