Galesburg, Pennycress moving forward on new crop opportunity

Galesburg, Il (June 4, 2012) – Galesburg’s Entrepreneur, Business and Industry Network (the EBI Network) and Pennycress Energy Company, LLC will be moving ahead on a collaboration which could bring millions of dollars and several jobs to the Galesburg/West Central Illinois Region.  At a recent meeting between the EBI Network, city officials and Pennycress Energy, plans were discussed on how to attract potential partners and investors to what could be an exciting and workable renewable energy project.

Pennycress Energy has been promoting the farming of pennycress, a seed producing plant that grows during the winter, as a feedstock for biodiesel. The crop would not compete with food crops, provides a cover crop during the winter, and could bring area growers an additional $25 million in revenues. Pennycress, a member of the mustard family, produces a seed that yields approximately 36% oil, double the oil produced from soy beans. The oil is of a high quality and there is a growing market for it among biodiesel refiners in fact being the preferred oil for use in aviation biodiesel for the defense industry. The seed used by Pennycress Energy was developed in conjunction with the USDA and has shown to be a heartier and higher yielding variety.

Galesburg Mayor Sal Garza said, “This opportunity represents the regions ability to move into the growing sustainable industries that are part of the new economy of the 21st Century. In addition to our traditional manufacturing base, this helps us diversify our local economy, creating jobs and adding revenues to our important agricultural economy.”

Sudhir Seth, Pennycress Energy CEO added, “Pennycress is a unique
farm to fuel pump enterprise giving our farmers the ability to double crop and earn more – it’s like adding another shift at a factory. The addition of this winter crop gives the farmer up to an additional $100 per acre in income. We will give the farmer the seed, payment to harvest the crop, and buy the seed harvested. The crop adds to the farmer’s income, creates jobs in the crushing process, and the oil derived from the seed will help decrease foreign oil dependency. It’s a very attractive proposition for all involved.”

Serin Rao, Pennycress’ Chief Operating Officer noted, “We’ve seen the pro-growth atmosphere the city has created here, and feel this would be a great location to move into our commercialization phase. This type of atmosphere is very important to any company looking to start and grow.”

Gary Camarano, the EBI’s Global Strategies Director explained, “We want to get local growers involved in the planting. If we can get enough acreage planted in a 50 mile radius we can justify a pressing facility that will employ 30. In the near future we will be hosting a number of meetings with local farmers to explain the project and enlist acres. I am excited about this opportunity.”

News of the project has also garnered support from local legislators as well. U.S. Congressman Bobby Schilling (IL – 17) has voiced support of the project by noting, “This is a project with potential for the region – jobs, revenue and helping the country decrease its foreign oil dependency. I’m proud to have something like this come out of our region, and I support activity like this. State Representative Don Moffitt also added his support, “As a farmer and legislator I see the benefits of a project like this. Jobs, a new source of farm income, a sustainable energy source – it makes sense for the region. Galesburg’s economic development efforts are on target and I commend the Mayor and his team for their actions.”

Over the course of the next few months the EBI Network will host several informational meeting for area farmers looking to learn more about pennycress and the opportunity to earn additional income. For more information call Gary Camarano at 309/371-0474 or email at gary.camarano@ebinetwork.org.

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