New Life for an Existing Plant

An Iowa city and biodiesel company work together to create jobs
By Erin Voegele | March 09, 2011

Soy Energy LLC is working to bring the former Freedom Fuels plant in Mason City, Iowa, back online with the help of a development agreement that has been established between the company and the town’s city council. According to Soy Energy General Manager Rick Davis, the agreement pertains primarily to tax increment financing. Mason City’s city council voted in February to approve the agreement.

The 30 MMgy plant was purchased by Soy Energy in September. Work is underway on the facility’s front end to make it feedstock flexible, Davis says. The plant formerly processed only soybean oil. After the front end work is complete, it will be able to process a diverse set of high free fatty acid feedstocks, Davis says, noting that his company plans to bring the facility back online in July or August.

Once operations begin, Davis estimates that the plant will employ approximately 20 fulltime employees, many of whom are expected to be former employees of the facility. “We’re hoping to attract as many of the qualified people as we can,” he says.

Davis says Soy Energy looked at several idle plants before purchasing the Mason City facility. “We’re excited to be in this community,” he says, adding that the location of the plant was very attractive. It has access to two rail lines and is located near two major interstate highways, Davis says.

In fact, he notes that Soy Energy’s investor group voted specifically to become involved in this project. “Before we purchased this facility, we went back to our investor group and had them vote on it,” he said. “An overwhelming majority chose to purchase this facility. That really shows confidence in biodiesel.”

—Erin Voegele

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