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Ethanol plant plans announced

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Plans to build a 100 million gallon ethanol plant in western Plymouth County were revealed on Thursday.

"We are pleased to announce that Little Sioux Corn Processors, L.P., plans to construct an ethanol plant at a location south of Akron, along Highway 12," Gary Tucker, Plymouth County's economic development director, said during a press conference in Akron. Steve Roe, general manager of Little Sioux Corn Processors, Marcus, joined Tucker in making the announcement.

The projected $150 million state-of-the-art plant will utilize 100,000 bushels of corn per day. Roe estimates that 38 to 39 million bushels of corn will be needed each year to accomplish the planned annual output of 100 million gallons of ethanol. The plant is expected to create 40-plus highly specialized jobs on a

permanent basis. When asked about salaries, Roe indicated the median pay for those jobs will be at least $18 an hour. That is the amount required to obtain financial assistance from the state, Roe said.

The Akron area also will benefit financially during the construction phase. Roe said 150 to 200 construction workers would be employed during the building phase. "I can assure you that they will leave some money here before they go home,"

Roe said.

The construction, which is expected to begin late next year, will take 14 to 16 months. Roe said they hope to have the Akron plant operating by late 2008 or early 2009.

The men would not specify exactly where the plant would be located. Tucker said land negotiations are still underway, but Roe said he is confident the plant will become a reality.

"We're going to make it happen," he said. Once the site is selected, soil tests will begin and construction contracts will be negotiated. Other preparations include obtaining approval from the Securities and Exchange Commission. After that approval is received, Roe said there would be opportunities for local investors.

The ethanol plant at Marcus produces 40 million gallons of ethanol per year. An expansion project that began Aug. 1, 2005, will increase production at the Marcus plant by another 52 million gallons per year. Factors that contributed to the decision to locate a plant at Akron included correct railroad connections and the availability of corn, Roe said. "You can't build a plant that is going to consume 39 million bushels of corn unless it's going to originate that much," he emphasized.

The plant's proximity to the Burlington Northern railroad line will enable the company to ship the ethanol out by rail. The corn will be delivered to the plant by truck. Both private and commercial sources of corn will be needed to meet the plant's needs, Roe said. Kevin Eekhoff, president of the Akron Development Corporation, and Plymouth County Supervisor Jim Henrich, Akron, said they expect great things with the addition of an ethanol plant in the Akron and Westfield area. "This is an exciting time," Eekhoff said.

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