In 1987, Jeff Broin bought a 1-million-gallon ethanol plant in Scotland, South Dakota. Thirty years later the Dell Rapids, South Dakota, native is best known as building Poet, the largest ethanol company in the United States producing 1.8 billion gallons of ethanol and 10 billion pounds of dried distillers grains annually at 27 plants.
What's more, his company partnered with DSM to launch cellulosic ethanol production at a plant in Emmetsburg, Iowa, in recent years.
As a result, Poet's Chief Executive Officer was inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame on Saturday, recognized as a "pioneer of biofuels" as one of 10 people inducted at a ceremony in Chamberlain, South Dakota.
Earlier this year Broin received the George Washington Carver award for innovation in industrial biotechnology at the BIO World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology.
The 2017 inductees include former Democratic Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin and former Gov. Harvey Wollman.
Broin said in a news release that his company plans to grow biofuels production while also developing new co-products to replace fossil-based products, at a time when farmers face economic pressures.
"Farmers today face challenges we haven't seen for 30 years," he said in a statement.
"We're already looking at another farm crisis. History must be our guide, and history shows that biofuels have been the only significant growth market for ag products in decades. If we are going to turn around the decline in farm income, land value and crop prices, it will have to be done by increasing biofuels as a percentage of the U.S. and world fuel supply. South Dakota can lead the way."
Poet broke ground on an 80-million-gallon corn ethanol expansion at its plant in Marion, Ohio, this year.
"This recognition is a true honor, and I'm proud to share this day with so many amazing South Dakota leaders," Broin said.
"Biofuels are an important industry for South Dakota, not only for the direct impact, but also for the many indirect effects that flow through our economy. Of everything we've accomplished at Poet, I am most proud of how we have helped grow prosperity for farmers and rural communities. This honor is for the thousands of people at Poet and in the broader biofuels industry who have helped change the world."
According to a news release from Poet, the company's ethanol plants generate more than $2 billion in business revenues, $384 million in household earnings, $38.4 million in state and local tax revenues and support more than 4,500 jobs.
Todd Neeley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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