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Raccoon Valley Biodiesel gets $400k, details still to come

Thursday, May 25, 2006

The proposed $70 million Raccoon Valley Biodiesel plant planned for Storm Lake got an early shot in the arm with $400,000 in state funds and approval for future tax breaks, but paperwork remains to be done to get the project off the ground.

The plant would create 25 jobs - most averaging nearly $20 an hour - and make biodiesel from soybean oil, vegetable oil and animal fats at a plant locate near the Gateway Lighthouse on Highway 71.

Officials of the project say that state rules require a "quiet period" until the necessary paperwork is filed with the state Securities and Exchange Commission.

"We are very pleased with the state funding, and that's really about all that can be said right now," said Dale Arends, Newell, president of the Raccoon Valley Bio Diesel Group.

The funding was approved Thursday by an Iowa Department of Economic Development Board. It allows for a $300,000 no-interest loan, plus an additional $100,000 in the form of a forgiveable loan, the latter basically a cash grant.

A couple of other applications for funding remain outstanding.

Incentives for 11 projects statewide were approved Thursday, totaling 250 jobs and more than $182 million in new economic developments, the IDED indicated.

Gov. Tom Vilsack applauded the funding decisions as "aggressive efforts to transform the Iowa economy."

"The state of Iowa is a renewable fuels leader and as demonstrated by today's projects, we are continuing to develop jobs in fast growing sectors in the biosciences and advanced manufacturing," Vilsack said.

The Storm Lake project is expected to generate total capital investment at an estimated at $59.7 million.

An equity drive is also in the works to help finance the refinery. The proposed date for completion of the plant has not yet been released.

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