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Friday, May 6, 2016

Putnam County welcomes POET

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Dan Machata guides a group around the POET plant and explained part of the process of making ethanol. POET Biorefining -- Cloverdale celebrated their grand opening Tuesday with a presentation, tours a lunch and information for the public. [Order this photo]
CLOVERDALE -- The grand opening of the POET Biorefining -- Cloverdale plant was altered a bit by Tuesday's rain but the company still put on a presentation that was part victory lap, part ethanol fuel political rally.

POET CEO Jeff Broin touched on a number of topics during the presentation, including why his company is called POET, his history with the company and his view for the future to a crowd numbering in the hundreds.

"Our vision is a world in which people work with nature to produce their energy, replacing millions of barrels of imported oil with clean, renewable energy, all while putting millions of dollars back in the American economy," Broin said.

He said the company is called POET because the ingredients the company uses, such as the earth, sunlight, seeds and hard work can create powerful and beautiful things.

POET makes ethanol, a fuel source that can be mixed with gasoline, through a chemical process using corn. This plant will be able to make 90 million gallons of ethanol a year.

Broin went through the history of POET, from an operation his father began on their family farm to the purchase of a foreclosed ethanol plant in Scottland, S.D., where Broin was made general manager at 22 years old, to the current company with 27 ethanol plants.

Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman said ethanol represents both a portion of Indiana's energy future and a way to lower the dependence on foreign oil sources.

This was Skillman's second time in the county in a week following the announcement on Thursday of Greencastle as one of two Stellar Communities in the state.

"The residents of Putnam County should feel very proud, because it is exceptional when we have two events within a five day period like this," she said. "To have Greencastle as the state's first Stellar Community announced and this investment in ethanol production facility is a huge win for the community and the region."

The building used for the presentation will hold dry distillerant grain, a side product of ethanol production that can be sold as animal feed. The building isn't insulated, leading to a large, chilly room.

After the presentation ended and the rain cleared, lunch was served and tours of the plant began. The tour guides described the process of turning corn into fuel-grade alcohol.

Lane Ralph, an aid to Senator Richard Lugar presented a flag flown over the United States Capitol to Broin and POET Cloverdale GM Dave Brooks.

Brooks said that since the last ethanol plant at the location failed, part of his job preparing for the POET plant opening has involved describing the stability the company brings to ethanol production.

"I tell them that POET has never had a project fail," Brooks said.

Tom Buis, the CEO of Growth Energy, a lobbying group for the ethanol industry and a Putnam County native, also spoke at the event. Buis said it was great to return to Putnam County for the event.

"I was born here, I lived here, I farmed here and if you go outside I can literally see some of the fields that I farmed when I farmed full time," Buis said. "Everyone's really excited about this plant opening. It's jobs, it's economic activity, it's a new competitor in the marketplace, which obviously helps farmers get a fair price for your product."

Buis talked about the need to combat statements he called untrue about ethanol.

Near the end of the presentation all of the employees of the new plant lined up and Brooks read his or her name. The employees waved to the crowd and one took a bow, joining in the fan fare. In the future they'll work towards making fuel, but today they get a moment in the spotlight.

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