November 2013

November 18th, 2013

"The “now hiring” sign is up online for Emmetsburg, Iowa, where the nation’s largest maker of ethanol used for motor fuel is putting the final touches on a manufacturing plant that will rely not on corn, but on the stalks and cobs left behind.

The company, Poet, is looking for an accountant, electricians, lab technicians, a supervisor for starch and cellulose operations, and more. Large flatbed trucks have already dropped off 2,600 tons of big bales at the distillery’s 22-acre stack yard. Equipment is visible from miles away across the flat, open prairie. The process is a bit like making moonshine on an industrial scale, helped along by some high-tech, bioengineered enzymes.

“My gosh, it’s been a boon for everybody,” said Myrna Heddinger, a retired nurse serving her third term as the mayor of Emmetsburg, a town of 3,500 people that has squeezed in 500 temporary construction workers. “We just don’t have that many places for people to rent to stay,” she added.

Poet and its joint venture partner, the Dutch industrial giant and enzyme maker DSM, have received $100 million in Energy Department grants and $20 million in financial incentives from the state of Iowa. They say they expect to begin production of ethanol at the Emmetsburg plant in early 2014, at a rate of about 20 million gallons a year."

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