The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Hopes Run High for bio-diesel plant in La Harpe

by Dessa Rodeffer - Quill Publisher-Editor

A repeat presentation by a BIO-diesel plant prospector, Jon A. Hall of Salem, Iowa was given to around 35 area businessmen and interested citizens Tuesday afternoon in the La Harpe Annex of R&D Foods.

Hall, President of recently formed Bio-NRG, LLC, Mt. Pleasant, Iowa formed his LLC to try something different in the soybean market and that is to crush soybeans for biodiesel production plus produce what he says is tons of high quality feed locally, saving the farmer the high cost of shipping.

Initially, the plan for this week's meeting, was for a Bio-NRG, LLC representative to meet at City Hall to talk to Mayor Brown and other representatives regarding land, EPA, and WIRC with State and Federal Grants.

Land located at the four corners of La Harpe were going to be shown to the representative for a possible building site for the plant in speculation.

The meeting created a lot of interest as citizens asked questions and many business cards were given to Hall to aid and encourage him in his endeavor in La Harpe and Hancock County.

City Council Members and several board members were present but not Senators or Representatives, although Hall said he had visited with Hare and Burris and others from Illinois who have given a lot of encouragement for a plant in Hancock County.

Why did Mr Hall come across the Mississippi just to look at La Harpe?

Well, it all started when Pastor Tom Wright of the Methodist Church read an article in a daily newspaper stating "Developer eyes soybean Crush, biodiesel plant in Henry County."

Pastor Wright said he read the article and then contacted Hall and asked him why he didn't try doing that in La Harpe -it was perfect for a plant such as the one he will be building in Henry County.

Hall, who said he was only planning on building the one plant, took a Sunday drive with his wife and family to check out the La Harpe community.

"We took a beautiful drive along the river road and ......the outward appearances La Harpe is a very nice town. I took a drive around the rail spur and looked at a few locations of interest.

"He told Tom that "It appears the agricultural community is large and... must be the major source of local employment."

Hall said, Bio-NRG was in the final phases of its seed equity drive and will be commencing a full equity offering after the attorneys have finished their work.

In the meantime, he was doing background research to maker a determination if what we are doing in Henry County could or should be replicated in La Harpe.

Although the initial data suggests that a project of some scale may be appropriate, a concern arises as to the extent of local support.

Hall said a determination would be made if he gained local, county and regional support, including support from the farming community and feed industry.

"There needs to be a broad base of local support and enthusiasm," Hall said.

It seems that the La Harpe community are doing their share of generating enthusiasm for the project.

Two more landowners added their names to the list of land that could be looked at as possible building sites.

The Henry County bio-diesel plant is waiting on contractors "Process Concepts" to arrive who are still finishing up a similar plant in Moberly, Missouri. The plant in Henry County plans for 25 new jobs, crushing 500 tons of soybean meal per day.

While Iowa has 14 plants , this is the first to have the bean crushing and bio-diesel production. The initial cost of the plant was $38 million dollars and will produce 10 million gallons of biodiesel a year on Highway 34, close to rail which he says will be used along with trucks.

La Harpe Mayor Ken Brown (left) and loan officer at First State Bank of Illinois Ben Powell, visit with Jon A. Hall, President of Bio-NRG, L.L.C. after his presentation Tuesday afternoon at the Annex where 35 businessmen and citizens attended.