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Gov. Blagojevich celebrates groundbreaking of new ethanol production facility          Send a link to a friend

Biorefinery will help lessen Illinois' dependence on foreign oil and bring about 35 new jobs to southwest Illinois

Governor provides nearly $5.7 million in grants and tax credits for new facility

[SEPT. 1, 2006]  SAUGET -- On Thursday, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich celebrated the groundbreaking of Center Ethanol Co.'s new $100 million ethanol production facility. The new biorefinery, to be built near the town of Sauget, is supporting Blagojevich's drive for energy independence and is creating about 35 new permanent jobs, as well as 250,000 worker-hours of construction jobs. The governor recently announced nearly $5.7 million in grants and tax credits for the new biorefinery.

"If we make these kinds of investments now in ethanol and other biofuels, within 10 years, we'll be able to produce enough energy from our own natural resource to cut our dependence on foreign energy in half," Blagojevich said. "That means billions of our hard-earned dollars will stay here at home, in our economy, creating more jobs rather than leaving Illinois forever. We have the resources. We have the technology. We have the expertise. And if we start today, we can solve this problem in the next 10 years. No other state can say that. And the federal government hasn't even conceived of that yet. But we can do it here in Illinois, and Center Ethanol is going to help us do just that."

This groundbreaking follows the governor's announcement last week of his energy independence plan to replace 50 percent of the state's current supply of imported oil with renewable, homegrown biofuels like ethanol and biodiesel. The governor proposes investing $100 million over the next five years to build up to 20 new ethanol plants across Illinois. The additional ethanol production would generate an estimated $1.7 billion in business investment. The governor also proposes investing an additional $100 million over the next 10 years to build four plants in downstate Illinois using new technology to create ethanol made from plant waste materials like corn husks and wood pulp -- "cellulosic ethanol." This means boosting the state's annual ethanol production by more than 200 percent and meeting 50 percent of gasoline needs by 2017. And, the governor's plan would invest $25 million to help build five new biodiesel plants, boosting the state's production by 200 percent to 400 million gallons per year, the equivalent of 25 percent of the state's annual diesel fuel needs by 2017. This additional biodiesel production will generate another $225 million in business investment in Illinois. This plan would create almost 20,000 construction jobs and 10,000 permanent jobs. [Related article]

The state's support of Center Ethanol is coming from a variety of business development programs in the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, including a Renewable Fuels Development Program grant; Economic Development for a Growing Economy tax credits, based on job creation projections over a 10-year period; Employer Training Investment Program job training funds to help enhance the skills of the work force; and additional financial benefits, such as sales tax exemptions and tax credits for job creation, resulting from the company being located within an enterprise zone.

The facility will produce 54 million gallons of ethanol per year, use more than 19 million bushels of corn annually and produce about 160,000 tons of livestock feed in the form of distillers dried grains each year.

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"Our site in Illinois has great infrastructure and provides access to everything we need," said Barry Frazier, president of Center Ethanol Co. LLC. "We greatly appreciate the support of Governor Blagojevich for making this project happen."

Some of the major equity partners are Center Oil Company, Yorktown Investments and Shipman Elevator Company, for a total equity commitment of $35 million.

"Solutia is proud to play a role in bringing biofuels initiatives to southwestern Illinois," said Jeffry N. Quinn, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Solutia Inc. "The Center Ethanol facility is a major step forward in developing the area into a green energy park that can leverage the resources and experience of Solutia's manufacturing site in Sauget."

"Governor Blagojevich and I understand that there are innovative ways, right here in Illinois, to decrease our dependence on foreign oil, while providing an important boost to our economy," said state Sen. James Clayborne, D-East St. Louis. "This support for Center Ethanol strongly demonstrates our commitment, today and tomorrow, to ethanol as a viable energy alternative."

"Governor Blagojevich and I know that we must continue making these kinds of crucial investments that will increase the production of ethanol, which helps our farmers and protects our environment," said state Rep. Dan Reitz, D-Steeleville. "This new facility will not only create 35 new jobs, but it will continue our commitment of making ethanol a key component of our energy portfolio."

"This is an important investment that will pay important economic and environmental dividends for years to come," said state Rep. Wyvetter Younge, D-East St. Louis. "I want to thank Governor Blagojevich for his commitment to increasing the availability of renewable fuels in Illinois."

"Illinois is one of the leaders in annual corn production, and, with Governor Blagojevich's vision, we lead the nation with new programs to support biofuels such as ethanol," said Jack Lavin, director of the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. "We need to nurture and support this growing industry to continue expanding our economy in a way that is continuously thinking about the future and is environmentally responsible. We are opening the door on a new era in southwest Illinois."

[News release]


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