(WJET/WFXP/YourErie.com) — State funding is bolstering an Erie startup that hopes to build the country’s largest recycling operation.

International Recycling Group (IRG) will receive a $509,000 grant from the Freight Rail Assistance Program. It’s the latest in milestones for the proposed recycling operation. In March, IRG purchased the former Hammermill Paper site at the 1600 block of East Lake Road in Erie. Then in October, IRG received $5 million from the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program.

The company’s goal is to build a facility that will recycle waste plastics into useable products. That includes waste plastic that traditionally cannot be recycled — IRG has a plan to repurpose those plastics into a material that can be used in steel manufacturing.

IRG, when it is up and running, could create more than 200 jobs in Erie. In March, IRG Founder and Chairman Mitch Hecht said those would be “living-wage jobs, and we hope to provide a good, solid future for a few hundred people.”

The $509,000 grant will be used to construct a rail siding for the new recycling plant.

“The continued investment by state officials, including Gov. Tom Wolf, continues to shine a momentous light on Erie’s eastside and the future of plastics recycling,” Hecht said on Dec. 16. “We are developing the next generation of industry right here in Erie — and the support from elected leadership continues to show us how essential our work is to our city and state in transforming the outdated plastic waste collection model.”