“Stay Midwest, Young Biofuels Entrepreneur”: a Counterpoint
by Todd Taylor with Christina Connelly, Ralph Groschen, Mark Lindquist, Gregg Mast, Tim Welle and Doug Cameron (Biofuels Digest/Minnesota) …Venture capitalists in California support and encourage these and many other companies and deserve ample credit for the Cambrian-like explosion of new technologies. As we rightly applaud them, let us remember that they have advanced as far as they have in no small part because of the efforts of Midwestern biofuels pioneers whose efforts convinced Texas oil man turned President George W. Bush to promote ethanol as essential to American energy policy in his 2005 State of the Union speech.
…Whatever your thoughts are about corn ethanol and soy biodiesel, there would not be a biofuels industry without the vision and risk-taking of Minnesota’s farmers. These early pioneers created an industry based on existing technology, competent engineering and a cooperative farming community.
…Merriam-Webster defines “entrepreneur” as “one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise.” Farmers do that every day; every season as they face multitudes of risks outside of their control–including weather, input costs, and ever changing prices. They risk their entire business every season.
…Can the Midwest really “identify, invest, incubate, iterate, initiate an IPO, and inexhaustibly support a venture based in ideas, intellectual property, and invention” like California? Maybe not in the same way, but in our own way, definitely Yes, and with great success.
…In Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan, the forestry industry has enormous resources to contribute, including raw materials, talent, and infrastructure to advanced biofuels entrepreneurs. While cautious, the industry knows it needs to diversify and is actively looking for worthy partners.
…We also have robust biofuels infrastructure—on the farm, at retail stations, and on the roads…
…During the height of the ethanol boom, it was not unusual for a community to raise $50 million or more of equity in less than a month to fund a new ethanol plant—and on terms far less strict than a typical VC. READ MORE