Governor Eric Holcomb received his negative test result for COVID-19 Thursday morning and promptly headed for a groundbreaking in Alexandria. The event at POET Biorefining marked the start of construction on a new facility enabling the ethanol processor to also produce purified alcohol, the primary ingredient in many sanitizer products, chief among those right now, hand sanitizer.
Holcomb thanked POET for making the $25 million investment in Indiana.
“I don’t want it lost on any of us just how appreciative we are,” he said. “We know you had a lot of other options and could have located anywhere in your other facilities. But you chose here and we are profusely grateful for that courage and confidence during, in many respects, pretty uncertain times.”
The governor said this project assists frontline workers and all of those fighting against a global pandemic that certainly has affected Indiana too.
“We just wouldn’t be able to meet that moment without POET and your team stepping forward and our Hoosier farmers that are supplying you with the products that you need,” Holcomb said. “It’s truly a win-win, win-win scenario, for obviously Hoosier farmers, obviously POET, obviously Alexandria and Madison County, and for the state of Indiana, because it further puts us on the map as being a place that meets the moment, meets the times, meets the demands.”
Matt Brown, POET Senior VP and General Manager was on hand for the groundbreaking. He explained just a couple of the benefits of the project that will use Indiana corn.
“Our expansion will not only help alleviate the worldwide shortage of cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer, it will also help to enhance the domestic market for the Indiana ag economy,” Brown said. “With the onslaught of challenges agriculture has faced in recent years, one could argue that it’s more difficult than ever to be a profitable American farmer. But POET is as committed as ever to build strong markets for corn, not only by producing new products like purified alcohol, but by continuing to fight for higher blends of biofuels across the country, which has the potential to use up billions of bushels of surplus corn and be a catalyst for agriculture’s long term success.”
With demand for hand sanitizer and other alcohol-based cleaning products outpacing supply at the onset of COVID-19 in the U.S. POET worked around the clock to fine tune their process to produce this new product. In Indiana 6 new fulltime jobs will be created so they can produce 30-35 million gallons of purified alcohol each year, after the over 50 construction jobs created to build the facility. It is expected to be online in early 2021.
How will the process work and what does it mean for local farmers? Answers to those questions in HAT’s part 2 report from Madison County.