Wednesday, May 11, 2005
Sioux Falls, SD – Approximately 1,300 Lake Crystal-area residents—including many of the 327 local investors in the facility—witnessed the Grand Opening ceremony of the $63 million Northstar Ethanol, LLC plant on Saturday, May 7, 2005. Northstar Ethanol is the seventh Minnesota plant built by the Broin Companies of Sioux Falls, SD, and the 21st plant in company history.
During an hour-long program in the new plant’s Grain Building, the crowd heard about jobs created by the new facility, advantages of the plant to area agriculture, and the future of the ethanol industry. Speakers included U.S. Congressman Gil Gutknecht, Lt. Governor Carol Molnau, state and local government officials, ethanol industry advocates, and representatives of Broin Companies.
Visitors toured what Broin Companies CEO Jeff Broin called a world-class facility. The new plant, built in nine-and-a-half months along Highway 60 west of Lake Crystal, will annually produce 50 million gallons of ethanol and 150,000 tons of Dakota Gold brand DDGS (dried distillers grains with solubles).
Congressman Gutknecht believes current high energy prices may serve to encourage use of ethanol and support for ethanol in Washington, D.C. Paraphrasing legendary seaman John Paul Jones, Gutknecht announced, “We have not yet begun to fight for ethanol. There are a lot of people in this country who don’t understand the value of this alternative fuel…but right now we can see the lower price of ethanol holding down the price of gasoline.”
In her remarks, Lt. Governor Carol Molnau referred to her experience as a farmer, “Here in Minnesota we are as far away from the end terminal for grain as we can be,” she said “so this kind of project makes sense for us. We can add value to grain and as Governor Tim Pawlenty said in his State of the State speech, ‘Minnesota can become the Saudi Arabia of the Midwest.’”
Each speaker at the Grand Opening event, including Gary Wertish, representing U.S. Senator Dayton, applauded recent efforts by the Minnesota legislature to expand the state ethanol mandate from 10% to 20% by 2013.
State Senator Julie Rosen, credited by Broin Companies officials for her early leadership in this project, also linked the Northstar opening and final passage of the Ethanol Blend Bill. “Today I’m the luckiest senator around,” she added. “Northstar is the first ethanol expansion project in Minnesota in six years and the bill is a huge step for Minnesota.”
State Representative Bob Gunther recalled the days when Minnesotans had to sit in line to have their vehicle emissions tested and what political efforts were needed to pass the original 10% ethanol mandate. “Now we’re signing a 20% mandate!” he exclaimed.
Turning the spotlight on approximately 40 full-time jobs created by the new plant, State Representative Tony Cornish reinforced Lake Crystal Mayor Brad Ahrenstorff’s remarks concerning the economic impact of Northstar Ethanol. Cornish envisions, “home purchases and customers for our local businesses. This is a boon for our local economy and our infrastructure.”
Bruce Stockman, representing the Minnesota Corn Producers Association, addressed farmers who invested in the new facility telling them they’ve helped create production capability. He encouraged them to join with the Corn Producers Association in creating corresponding demand by promoting ethanol wherever they go.
Monte Shaw of the Renewable Fuels Association referred to a new study by the Consumer Federation of America saying, “Oil companies are making more money than ever before. If oil companies won’t do what is right for consumers, we need a public policy that looks out for the public.”
Ron Lamberty, American Coalition for Ethanol, built on that argument in his remarks to the crowd. “Oil companies don’t want to use ethanol, but their customers do. I’ve been getting calls from all over the country—from markets I’ve never heard from before.”
Broin Companies CEO Jeff Broin closed the ceremonies with congratulations to all involved in construction of the new plant. “I congratulate these farmer-owners and assure them of support from every department at the Broin Companies to ensure this plant’s success.”
The plant will incorporate the revolutionary BPX technology in processing 17.5 million bushels of locally-grown corn—equal to180 sections of cropland, Jeff Broin concluded.
Northstar Ethanol general manager Scott Austin thanked all of those who warmly welcomed him to the Lake Crystal community and introduced his staff. Annual payroll from the new ethanol plant are estimated at $1,500,000.
Following a ribbon cutting, Jeff Broin, Dr. Larry Lundblad from South Central Technical College, and Paul Moe from the MN Department of Employment and Economic Development, participated in a signing ceremony for a $131,000 MN Job Skills Partnership grant that will provide safety training for four of our MN ethanol plants, including Northstar. This grant will help ensure that employees receive the best safety training available to assure a safe and healthy work environment for themselves and their surrounding communities.
The Vanguard Squadron, four 100 percent ethanol-powered airplanes, entertained the crowd with a fly-over prior to the ceremony. Plant tours held throughout the morning and afternoon allowed attendees an up-close view of the plant and the ethanol production process.
On display and attracting lots of attention was an Indy Racing League (IRL) Team Ethanol show car, sporting the new ethanol logo and paint job just like the actual IndyCar® driven by #91 Paul Dana. Team Ethanol is sponsored by many industry organizations, including the Broin Companies. The team promotes ethanol as a high-performance fuel that is clean burning, renewable, and made in America.
Broin Companies began building ethanol plants in 1987. With the addition of Northstar Ethanol, total annual production capacity at Broin Companies partner plants will exceed 700 million gallons. The company has built plants in five states and provides turnkey development, design/build, management and product marketing services for its partner facilities.