The Little Sioux Corn Processors ethanol plant, situated between Marcus and Cleghorn, has accomplished their goals and more. The plant began operation on April 3, 2003 and according to General Manager Steve Roe, "We knew within 30 days this plant could produce more than the 40 million gallons a year. This plant was designed to produce 40 million. Today we are producing 52 million gallons a year."
Roe went on to explain that an additional fermentation tank, a slurry tank and a liquid faction tank was installed which allows the plant to produce at the 52 million gallon annual rate.
"We want to add additional equipment so we can produce 90 to 100 million gallons of ethanol a year. ICM who designed this plant is working on the blueprint and Fagen will build it. The equipment should be operational in either late 2006 or early 2007. It takes time to make sure the details are properly worked out. This expansion will nearly double the size of this operation," said Roe.
The Little Sioux Corn Processors employ 34 now and when the expansion is complete, the plant should have a total of 45 employees. They will be hired about 60 days prior to start-up at the expanded level in order to allow time to train new personnel.
The plant operates 24 hours a day seven days a week. Roe mentioned that in the event of equipment failure or planned maintenance the plant will have a brief shut down which usually translates to one day a month when averaged over a 12 month period.
The plant has corn hauled in primarily from a 30 mile radius which may enlarge slightly with the increased output of ethanol.
About 98 percent of the distiller grain (feed use) is hauled out and sold to farmers within a 130 mile radius. Cattle feeders have come to rely upon it. The remainder is sold as dry feed and purchased by companies to be mixed into feed ration sold to farmers.
The first year of operation, the Little Sioux Corn Processors had seven months of operation to base their dividends to their investors. Even so, the business paid $2 million back to their investors. In their second year of business which ended Sept. 2004, investors received $7 million back. This year, investors should not be disappointed according to Roe.
Roe explained, "Investment in this plant is being rewarded. Their was excellent planning done by the board as well as those professionals they sought out. Our employees have given their best. We have had reasonable corn prices. The gas price has worked for us. We have had excellent margins. It just came together for us. Our market is growing. We are pleased with how it has worked out for the ag economy which means it helps all of us."