POET Biorefining – Marion in Ohio broke ground Tuesday to expand its production capacity from 70 million gal. per year to 150 million gal. per year. The project will also increase production of dried distillers grains from the current 178,000 tons annually to 360,000 tons. With the groundbreaking, site work has officially begun, and the project's completion is slated for the third quarter of 2018.
“This expansion will add 26 million bu. of new corn demand annually for the local area and create new jobs and economic activity for rural Ohio," POET chief executive officer Jeff Broin said. “In recent years, I know farmers are struggling with low commodity prices, which is creating lower farm incomes and decreasing land values. Biofuels have been the only real growth sector for ag commodities in the past decade. We will need to see biofuels increase as a percentage of the U.S. and world fuel supply and as a percentage of our gas tanks to stabilize worldwide ag prices and land values. We are excited that the Marion plant expansion can play a small role in this important arena."
This expansion is the largest project in the Marion area since the construction of the original POET Biorefining – Marion in 2008. The $120 million project will have a profound impact on the local economy, including 225 temporary construction jobs and 18-21 new permanent jobs at the site, according to POET. It also will add new corn demand at a time farmers sorely need support.
Ohio leaders, farmers and area residents joined POET in the day’s celebration. Tuesday was officially named “POET Day” by the Marion City Council, and hundreds of people were on hand to hear remarks from POET and political leaders. Several representatives praised the planned doubling of capacity at the Marion facility.
“Renewable fuels have been a bright spot in an agriculture economy marked by low commodity prices and flat farm income,” Sen. Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio) said. “With this announcement, POET Biorefining -- Marion is not only creating good-paying jobs in one of our most important sectors; it is leading the way for future use of biofuels in the ag sector.”
“POET’s expansion will create even more market opportunities for Ohio’s producers and help the state’s number-one industry -- food and agriculture -- continue to grow,” Ohio Department of Agriculture director David T. Daniels said. “Agribusinesses recognize Ohio’s growth environment, and ultimately, all Ohioans – consumers and farmers – benefit from this growth.”
“The Fourth District grows things and makes things, and POET’s expansion in Marion will help us keep doing just that,” Rep. Jim Jordan (R., Ohio) added. “We're proud of all the great work being done at the plant and of all the local farmers supplying it. I look forward to seeing the completed plant next year.”
POET also provided opportunities for biofuel supporters to weigh in on the recent Environmental Protection Agency proposal that would lower the overall biofuel volumes blended into the U.S. fuel supply. Attendees could write comments to EPA outlining their personal experiences with the benefits of biofuel production.
POET, the world’s largest biofuel producer, is a leader in biorefining through its efficient, vertically integrated approach to production. The 30-year-old company has a network of 27 production facilities. Through its joint venture with DSM, POET also operates a commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant in Emmetsburg, Iowa.