Biofuel Plants Could Be Coming to Corning

CORNING, AR -- Taking our farm crops and turning them into profit could soon be made right here in Region 8. About 200 people met in Corning this week to explore the possibilities of bringing a biodiesel production plant to Clay County.

"I think it is favorable for our area and all of Northeast Arkansas to proceed with the plant," says Blake Johnson, a Clay County farmer and Corning Alderman.

The Corning Community met around the beginning of 2006 discussing bringing a soydiesel plant to Clay County. The City of Corning said it would match what a private sector could raise to pay for the study. The people of Clay County raised close to $20,000, which turned into $40,000. They got the funds in place and hired a consulting firm to do a feasibility study, deciding just how possible it was for corning to have a biodiesel plant. The results just came back and the firm gave corning the green light to start the process.

They also considered adding a soybean-crushing facility to extract the oil from the beans, something that would just add to the worth of the project.

"Once you have the oil seed processing done, you have the oil and if you have the biodiesel plant right there beside it, you're making your own market for the product," says Johnson.

There's also talk of putting an ethanol production plant in Corning. A representative from a Colorado biofuels consulting firm was at Clay County's alternative fuels meeting this week to discuss starting a study for an ethanol plant in corning that would use corn and milo grown right here in Region 8.

"It would be good to have them together. Soybean diesel is the diesel side and ethanol is the gasoline side," says Johnson.

But now that the soydiesel study is complete and they say they are about 95 percent sure that Corning could get the plant, the next step is to figure out how to finance the facilities.

"There are several ways to do this. One is by local ownership, number two would probably be through bonding, number three would be through conventional finance means, and number four is through stock options," says Barry Sellers, the Executive Director for the Corning Chamber of Commerce.

They are 3 big plants that they say would bring so much to Corning, Clay County and all of Region 8. The plants could each bring 60 full time jobs, totaling nearly 200 jobs for the soybean crusher, the soybean biodiesel plant and the corn ethanol facility.