Ethanol plant boosts city’s economy

(published by Waseca County News, written by JAMES ANDERSON, Publisher / Editor)

JANESVILLE — By the time Guardian Energy’s Janesville ethanol plant took in its first load of corn in October 2009, it had already become the town’s largest employer.

Located just east of Janesville, the plant’s more than 50 employees were expected to provide a boost to the local economy. Everyone from real estate agents to restaurant owners had waited years through a failed VeraSun Energy plant to reap the benefits of the employees’ discretionary income.

So have Guardian Energy’s employees brought the economic boost that Janesville business was looking for?

Whether the employees already lived here or have relocated for a position at the plant, their economic impact is already felt around Janesville. Guardian Energy’s hourly salaries range from $14 an hour to a low $20-range per hour. On top of that, there are skilled and managerial salary positions.

“We have 52 full time employees. I’m the only one who isn’t residing locally — my spouse has a career in the cities and I commute,” Guardian Energy CEO Don Gales said. “Our grains guy is closing on a house next week. He’s from Omaha. Everyone else is local. We have over 50 good, quality jobs with benefit packages that benefit the local community.”

Mike Finley, president of Janesville State Bank, agrees.

“It’s improved our financial well being,” Finley said. “It’s a great deal for the town to have 50 jobs here that are well paying jobs. It might hopefully spawn some new types of businesses that would work with the plant.”

Read the full article

Our Take:
We’ll lay this out as clearly (starkly) as possible:
One community prospers with the introduction of clean burning renewable energy production, owned by farmer-investors from a number of Midwest states, and this new industrial facility enhances the value of the crops from farms throughout the region. Businesses along main street all gain by the increase of activity in Janesville, Minnesota, and the flow of money into the pockets of 50 employees who live in the area.

Another region, the Gulf Coast of the United States, suffers irreparable harm—including massive economic harm (in the billions of dollars), virtually shutting down fishing and tourism industries, because a huge multinational energy company did not build enough failsafes into its deepwater drilling operation, had a single accident, and its freely flowing oil well is now drenching hundreds of miles of shoreline and coating thousands of square miles of the sea with oil.

Which energy future should the U.S. pursue? Revitalizing America’s heartland with biofuels, or killing its coasts with offshore oil?

Is something that is foreseeable really an accident?

If the federal government decides that now it is time to do a reasonable job leading us towards a transportation system and economy based on biomass-based fuels and materials, built on a solid foundation of crop-based fuels, we could be writing off this strategy of opening up deep offshore sites to oil extraction.

Until we do see an “Apollo” (“Let’s put a man on the Moon”)-style project for alternative energy, we can look forward to more of the same kinds of oil rig “accidents”.

The Gulf Coast states should be the starting point for this next wave of alternative energy development—let’s see the federal government help them, through policy and cooperation with private enterprise, to build sugar cane/bagasse biorefineries, and pass E20 requirements for all the Gulf Coast states—they’ll get the economic boost of the energy industry without the potential for complete disaster which has become an all-too-real a nightmare for them, thanks to offshore drilling.

And let’s ensure the prosperity of plants like Guardian Energy, by seeing the EPA approve E15 across the nation.


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