The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.
$1,033,750 In Stimulus Money Comes In Time To Help La Harpe's Bio-NRG Plant
by Dessa Rodeffer, Quill Publisher/Owner
On Monday morning, February 1st, U.S. Representative Phil Hare (D-Rock Island) of the 17th Congressional District came to La Harpe to bring good news in the form of stimulus dollars to investors and area supporters of economic development in La Harpe.
Congressman Hare told La Harpe Mayor Ken Brown, members of the La Harpe City Council, Delbert Kreps of the County Board, Andy Bastert and Ben Powell of First State Bank, local Pastor Tom Wright and Jon Hall, President and CEO of Bio-NRG, LLC that Hall and his third generation company had been awarded over $1,033,000 for research and planning in their endeavor to help bring jobs to Illinois
Jon Hall, of Salem, Iowa, is President and CEO of a Bio-NRG, L.L.C. that he formed last year and opened an office in Mt Pleasant, Iowa where much of the planning and research is going on, he said.
With tax credits for bio-diesel operation expired at the beginning of 2010, and put on the back burner to health care, Hall says his plans for building a new bio-diesel plant are being made without using tax credits in the formula.
"We'd like to be self-reliant," Hall said, "and not be dependant on tax credits."
He also said of the nation's bio-diesel industry presently running at only 15% and threatening layoffs that his plant is using a new and more efficient technology. He said he would not be competing with big ADM and Cargill, but would be reaching out to a smaller regional market with products that include a product for mixing with feed for swine, cattle, and poultry and the like.
The new idea in making diesel is not by extracting oil from soybeans, but by using a crushing method that is more efficient and can use all of the soybeans. He said he has research help through economic development at W.I.U., a woman helping with research and an patent on an algae process at S.I.U. and Dr. Clint Rila, PHD helping research at Iowa Wesleyan College in Mt. Plesant, Iowa and Mike Hass at the USDA.
Initially they were working on building a facility in Iowa but the state was
not offering incentives. When pastor Wright called and invited him to look at La
Harpe, the area looked perfect near rail and highway and a river terminal at
Colusa and, he said, "the community embraced us with open arms and a lot of
positive help. That is why we came here," Hall said, and the fact that
Hancock, Henderson, and McDonough counties produce over two times the soybean
crop than is needed for this endeavor.
Legislators had all talked positive about the project early on, Hall said, and with the newly obtained grant for planning and research as an incentive, its like a shot in the arm for all who gathered Monday who want to see economic growth in Hancock County.
Bio-NRG, L.L.C. was awarded $33,750 from the United States Department of Agriculture for planning and $1,000,000 from United States Department of Energy for research through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Money can be used for equipment but not construction.
Hall said Bio-NRG, L.L.C. are looking at 70% of the $35 million dollar project coming from two overseas lenders, and 10% from area investors which he is presently working on through information meetings.
The 15 acres of land is already purchased south of the Annex near the
railroad but sewer and water is needed to be extended to the site.
They are hoping to gain a turn lane off Highway 9 onto the plant's access road as well.
Ground breaking is set for June that will mainly begin with landscaping at that time. The project is in hopes of generating 25-30 jobs.
Hall, a veteran, served fifteen years in the U.S. Marines and two in the Air Force and says his hope is to continue to help with the security of our nation by providing fuel to the military. Already, laws are in place that require them to buy 50% of their fuel in the U.S., Hall said.
There are still skeptics that wonder if a new bio-diesel plant can compete in an over-saturated market. National Biodiesel Board spokesman Michael Frolich was quoted in an article "Biodiesel Industry On Hold After Tax Credit Runs Out" that plants are running idle" and that without tax credit, "the business would not survive."
Tax credits passed the House but as yet not passed the Senate. Senator Charles Grassley, R-Iowa launched a bill late in "09 to extend the tax credit for five years and make a production tax credit instead of a blending credit to help companies that make biofuel rather than refineries that use it to blend into their products.
According to Halls he feels small will be to their advantage in their ability to meet local needs and to a smaller regional market and their newer and more cost effective process.
He said more information is on their website at http://bio-nrg.info/
Pastor Tom Wright expresses his excitement and appreciation for the $1,033.750 grant money that Congressman Phil Hare (D-Rock Island) came to La Harpe Monday to announce. The funds came from federal stimulus money and was designated for planning and research of the proposed biodiesel soybean crushing operation that is set to break ground in June on 15 acres of ground in La Harpe after construction funding is secured. The bio-diesel plant is in hopes of producing 25-30 jobs as well as offering a competitive market for farmers' soybean crops.