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Posted on  

September 16, 2002

New plant will make 40 million gallons of ethanol annually

MONROE - With the cutting of a ribbon and a brief tour of the facility, an estimated crowd of 200 people celebrated the impending opening of the Badger State Ethanol LLC plant on Saturday.

The ceremony, which was attended by plant managers and employees and state representatives including Wisconsin Gov. Scott McCallum, marked the culmination of nearly two years of planning and construction.

The construction of the plant began as a vision of President Dr. Gary Kramer of Lena, and Vice President John Malchine of Watertown,Wis. The $44 million dollar plant will employ 32 people and produce 40 million gallons of ethanol per year and 130,000 tons of both wet and dry animal feed annually.

The men got assistance from Fagen Inc. of Granite Falls, Minn., which has constructed 25 ethanol plants throughout the country, and is considered the leading constructor of ethanol plants, and ICM Inc. of Colwich, Kan., which is considered one of the top ethanol processing engineer firms.

Kramer said the plant is slated to open up sometime in either late September or early October. He also said plant management would be checking the systems in the plant individually to make sure they run right, and added that Fagen and ICM have been known for their quick starting times, getting plants running at full capacity between seven and 14 days after their initial launch.

"This is truly a great day, two years in the making," Kramer said in an emotional address to the crowd. "The Lord was with us. Many of you have been supporting us since the beginning."

Malchine said the reason Monroe was chosen for the location of the plant was because it fit the requirements that both he and Kramer set forth for a suitable location. Those requirements included suitable railroads for transportation, gas and electric, and a welcoming community, according to Malchine.

"We feel good about having the plant in Monroe," Kramer said. "We knew we wanted to have the plant in Monroe. They invited us up here. They were looking for us, so we settled here."

Badger State is the second ethanol plant to open up in Wisconsin. The first plant, located in Stanley near Eau Claire, opened its doors two weeks ago.

Kramer also said that both he and Malchine have been pleased with the integrity and character that both city officials and the residents of Monroe have shown during the project.

In order to build the plant, the city set up a $2.8 million tax increment financing district. According to Monroe Director of Public Works Nate Klassy, the district is set up to be paid back at $280,000 per year over the course of 10 years. The Badger State TIF is considered more aggressive than average TIF plans, which usually call for payment over the course of 20 years.

"It's aggressive," Klassy said. "They (Badger State officials) just seemed to want to do it that way. The city wants it too because at the end, their tax money will be going toward the city and the schools."

Monroe Mayor Bill Ross said that he was thrilled with the plants presence in Monroe, and also said that it was not only to Monroe's benefit, but also to the surrounding communities.

Attending the ribbon cutting ceremony was McCallum and Wisconsin Secretary of Agriculture Trade and Consumer Protection Jim Harsdorf.

"We are building a future for Monroe and the state of Wisconsin," McCallum told the crowd. "Everything we are doing is designed to provide opportunity. I don't like us spending wild money. I want us to like within our means. But when it comes to the development of jobs, I look at it as an investment."

McCallum's administration set aside $3 million in incentives for the development of ethanol in the current state budget.

"Anyway you cut it, this is a benefit to the state," McCallum said. "Everybody here is my boss. What we do is not about McCallum. It's not about Harsdorf. It's about our way of life. I love this state and I want my kids and your kids to grow up, live in this state and have opportunities."

Malchine said the development of ethanol is important, not just on a state level but also on a national level, including the need to minimize the country's dependence on oil from the Middle East.

Local farmers were pleased with arrival of the plant

"It's another great place to sell our product," said farmer Ken Schmid who lives just south of Monroe and grows grain. "We're 20 years behind but I'm glad that we're doing it. This is an impressive facility, and the management has experience."

He said he was particularly pleased with the decision to locate the plant in Monroe because of the money he will save from not having to pay $2.10 cents per mile to have semi-trucks haul his product to out of state locations.

Harsdorf said two to three more plants are in the works throughout the state. McCallum said that ethanol would have a significant impact on the future of the state and its farmers.

"It's frustrating to me to have our farmers taking their crops and sending them to Iowa," McCallum said. "I want them to stay here. I want those jobs in Wisconsin."



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