GARY - The chief executive officer of California-based Fulcrum BioEnergy Inc. says the decision to locate a massive waste-to-fuels plant in Gary is part of an overall growth effort. The company announced Thursday it would build a $600 million Centerpoint BioFuels Plant in the Lake County city and create up to 163 jobs by 2022. Jim Macias says the facility will provide fuel to airline customers and partners at the Chicago airports.

"Here in Gary, there are some good sites, good locations, good infrastructure," said Macias. "It's got a good, skilled labor force in the area that's available to us for the employment and the jobs we need. Our high-skilled labor, they're very well-paying and they do attract good, quality people. Sometimes we need help with very specific training and having training programs like exist here in Gary are helpful in helping us train the people onto the specific operations that we do for our plants."

Macias says he was impressed with the collaboration between the city and the state.

"The economic development personnel have been very forthright, very forthcoming, very professional and also the synergy and alignment between the city agencies and the state agencies that work very well together," said Macias. "It's refreshing to have that take place, even though there's different political party alignments, to see them really working well together to help benefit the state and help bring companies like ours and projects like ours and jobs like ours to the city and the state."

The plant will be the company’s second in the country and Macias says there are plans for more than a dozen of them throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe and Asia. Construction on the Gary plant is expected to begin in 2020 and take 18 to 24 months to complete.