POET Biorefineries bring distinct advantages to rural communities and state economies.
Bright lights, big city – Groton!
As a May graduate of the University of Notre Dame, Sioux Falls native Dominic Boyer is doing something many of his engineering classmates are not – he’s getting his hands dirty with real world chemical engineering experience in South Dakota.
Boyer, 22, is the Plant Engineer at POET Biorefining – Groton. And he couldn’t be happier to come back home to start his career.
“I’m getting to jump in and do a lot of things that kids I graduated with are unable to do,” he said. “I think POET offers a lot of opportunities, especially for young engineers – and a lot of people in general – to find high-quality jobs close to home. It’s all I could ask for.”
Recently, POET commissioned ABF Economics of Doylestown, PA, to complete an economic impact study. A nuts and bolts look – with loads of facts and figures – at POET’s significance to the national economy, as well as to the states where 28 biorefining plants produce ethanol, cellulosic ethanol, Dakota Gold distillers products and Voila corn distillers oil.
Yet it’s the people who are impacted by POET’s reach that are the real story. Stories like Boyer’s, and the stories that follow, help explain POET’s importance in the marketplace. According to John M. Urbanchuk, Managing Partner at ABF Economics, POET’s contributions can be felt in direct, indirect and induced ways:
Direct effects are the known or predicted changes in the economy resulting from POET’s operations. “For example, the direct employment impact of POET is the number of people POET has on payroll.”
Indirect effects are the result of the business-tobusiness transactions required to produce direct effects. “A good example of an indirect job supported by POET is a corn farmer who grows and sells corn to a POET plant.”
Induced effects are derived from spending on goods and services by people working to satisfy direct and indirect. “That would be an employee at a retail establishment that benefits when a POET employee or family member spends the income generated by POET.”
We could tell you that in 2014, POET generated $13.5 billion in sales for U.S. businesses or supports an estimated 39,378 full-time jobs, but what better way to tell the story than to listen to the voices of those who are touched by POET daily.
“I came in as Governor in January of 1983, and at that time we were a very energy dependent state, basically fossil fuels imported from overseas,” said Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad. “Today in Iowa, we produce more in ethanol than we consume in gasoline – and that’s created a lot of great jobs. It’s been good for the environment, it’s been good for the economy and it’s good for Iowa’s corn farmer.
“We are very excited at the change that has taken place,” Branstad continued. “We appreciate a company like POET making these investments in many small communities, which has just helped us revitalize rural Iowa.
“In the past, we educated a lot of talented people in the state who left to get good jobs outside Iowa,” Branstad said. “Now, we’ve got people who grew up in Iowa, who have friends and family here and are able to come back and find good quality jobs in their local communities where they can earn a respectable living – and make a contribution to their communities.”
“Our partnership goes back many, many years,” said Peter Halling, Senior Director, Global Marketing – Biofuels for Novozymes, the world leader in bioinnovation – including industrial enzymes, microorganisms, and biopharmaceutical ingredients (the stuff that gets the most out of the ethanol production process). “Obviously, both companies have benefited from this partnership economically. Novozymes from selling to an important customer like POET, an organization that values – and is willing to pay – for innovation, as well as for POET, which has gained an economic and competitive advantage with Novozymes’ innovative solutions.”
“It’s been a blessing in disguise,” Halling said of the nearly decade partnership with POET. “We’ve had a very steep learning curve and we’ve worked very hard to deliver the products that help POET in the marketplace – it’s kept us sharp, and it’s kept us consistent, and that is a very good thing.”
“I took a couple of plant tours early on and I did my research, and I have to tell you, POET has a great business model, so there has never been any apprehension in supplying grain to them,” said Todd Hesterman, a 52-year-old corn farmer from Henry County, Ohio. “It’s certainly a step in the right direction toward independence from foreign oil. And I tell you what, the ethanol business has been the spark we needed in this country, that’s for sure.”
“It’s a very small town, so I knew business was probably going to be slow – we are in the middle of Iowa,” said Erika Thompson, owner of Edgewater BBQ in Emmetsburg, Iowa. “But I like that we’re in small-town Iowa, it has always been my dream to have a business, but I also have a family – I’m the mother of three and they mean everything. I am really happy in how it works here, that I get to work, but I also get to enjoy my family.
“When I opened, that’s when POET was building Project LIBERTY (POET-DSM’s state-of-the-art cellulosic ethanol plant) and I tell you one thing, I don’t think I would have been nearly as successful if it hadn’t been for the POET employees, I mean, we had lines out the doors,” Thompson continued. “It’s always a pleasure to have my POET guys come in, they’re so funny and they’re just amazing people.
“POET has been a blessing to my business – and to my life.”