The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Spotlight: Iowa Business Looking To Expand In La Harpe

Jim Clayton, Quill Reporter

It has not been common to hear of new jobs, or new industry, or economic growth, in light of recent bail-outs and talk of severe recession and unemployment and the need for economic stimulus.

As a matter of fact, such talk may actually be nonexistent for much of our country. Economic stimulus means more than just putting money in the hands of the American people.

True stimulus would be more jobs, or higher paying jobs, or even alternative revenue sources for those already working.

But, quite to the contrary of the current economic crisis, there is a company in Mount Pleasant, Iowa looking to expand. Bio-NRG (pronounced bio-energy) is currently in the process of building and expanding their Mt. Pleasant facility.

Bio-NRG's primary focus is creating livestock feed from soy beans. The method they use is what is known as crushing, and there is a natural bi-product that results from the use of crushing and that is soy-oil. This oil can be converted into bio-diesel fuel.

Jon A. Hall, one of a nine member board for Bio-NRG put it this way, "Mechanical crushing as opposed to chemical extraction requires much smaller facilities that are much easier to manage."

Hall and a group from Bio-NRG will be speaking to the La Harpe city council on February 23 to tout the benefits of possibly having a small facility built in the La Harpe area, "Our biggest obstacle has typically been that we are viewed as competitors to the co-ops and feed mills, we want people to know that we are not," added Hall.

Interest in the La Harpe area was first generated by Pastor Tom Wright of the La Harpe United Methodist Church. "I spoke with Pastor Wright and as a result I took a drive around La Harpe and what I saw was a nice community where we could possibly do business," said Hall.

Bio-NRG is a relatively new company, founded in Hall's home in Salem, Iowa in November of 2007, and has only recently moved outside of his home into the Mount Pleasant plant. "When we use these smaller operations that employ from 25-50 employees, it works really well for the producers.

We are a 24 our operation and we are continually making product, when they can come directly to us, it helps to keep everything local," continued Hall.

Bio-NRG has made no definite promises to move to La Harpe, but has not ruled it out either. "We are going to do a 20 minute presentation to the council, answer any questions they may have, and go from there," said Hall. "Input from the community is critical, from the feed market, the bio-diesel market, and the soy bean market."

The citizens of La Harpe must remember that this is not a large scale project, but could provide a few new jobs and a new source of revenue for the local farming community.

And, in what many are viewing as perilous times, anything new offers a ray of hope for the economic future.