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In Issue No. 1 we spelled out the three foundations of the Crawford County economy:

1) Manufacturing
2) Oil
3) Agriculture

In this issue, we find a combination of all three in our local ethanol plant. The "grass roots" efforts of local farmers in building the plant is an inspiration to all of us.

Robert M. Berty
Executive Director

Everyone wants to "bag an elephant," that is, locate a really huge industry in their area. The last "elephant" we got a shot at was in April when North American Lighting announced they were looking for an additional plant location. According to the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), they received sixty replies from three different states requesting site visits. Sixty to one odds are not very good (except in the Kentucky Derby), and that is a reality that elephant hunters face.

We would love to have a large industry set up a site visit here in Crawford County and we are all set to accomodate. However, in the mean time, we are working with three "startup" industries that are in Crawford County operating now. The entrepreneurs here in Crawford County are gradually building our industrial base as they build their busineses. In this edition we will talk about the Lincolnland Agri-Energy refinery and will feature other start-up industries in later issues.

LincolnLand Agri-Energy Ethanol Plant
Palestine, Illinois

In 2000 a group of local grain farmers formed the ADA (Agriculture Development Association) to explore ways to find broader markets for value added products. After several years of study and investigation, they decided that an ethanol plant might be the answer.

Skeptics and “nay sayers’ were abundant at the early meetings, but farmers are a hearty lot and the group (many of which later formed the board of the co-op) persisted in their dream and in 2001 formed Lincolnland Agri-Energy, LLC.

Grants from local, state and federal sources helped support the effort initially, but the real financial base was the sale of stock to over 450 farmer-owners. Most of the stockholders are local, but the list of stockholders includes members from 22 counties in Illinois and investors from seven surrounding states.

Starting production in July of 2004, the $58 million dollar plant produces 45 million gallons of ethanol annually. Ethanol is a renewable fuel that produces a high octane combustion and delivers improved vehicle performance with low emissions. In addition, it concentrates the protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals in the corn into a high value livestock feed. This DDGS (distillers dry grain soluble), is a valuable by-product and is sold worldwide, generating over $10 million in gross revenues last year.

Research continues on the uses for other products from the process, such as carbon dioxide and wet distillers grain, which can be sold directly from the local plant to the dairy industry. The economic impact on the area has already been significant. In addition to the initial construction jobs, Lincolnland Agri-Energy has created 32 permanent jobs and a shot in the arm for the trucking and transportation industry locally, transporting corn in and ethanol and distillers grain out of the plant.

There are still critics and all the “nay sayers” have not gone away, but try to buy some stock. There is none for sale, especially after Lincolnland paid their first cash dividend early this year. It’s still early in the life of an ethanol refinery, but if the trends continue, their experiment will be a “corn smashing” success.

Making money and making fuel is always good news, but to me the real story is the success of the ADA and their efforts to find new markets for their grain. It proves that tucked away in rural Illinois the American entrepreneurial spirit is still alive. When a determined group of visionaries find a need and are willing to work hard and invest their own money, great things can happen. Move over Horatio Alger, there is new power in town and it is called Agricultural Ethanol!

For more information on Crawford County, please visit the Crawford County Development Association (CCDA) Web site.

The Crawford County Development Association Newsletter is created in partnership and made possible through the assistance of Ameren Economic Development.

Ameren P.O. Box 66149 MC 350 St. Louis, MO 63166-6149
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