Biodiesel Plant Plans Moving Forward in Corning

CORNING, AR--It's been in the works since 2005, but now a group of farmers and local investors are moving forward with a plan to build a 80 million dollar biodiesel plant in Corning.

Farmers in Region 8 are hoping the output from soy beans will soon power cars. And in turn, put money in their pockets.

"I think we are just scratching the surface with this," said Clay County farmer Jim Davis.

Davis farms just outside of Corning. He's on board with a new plan to build a biodiesel plant in Corning that could once again make soy beans a major part of the region's agricultural economy.

"I don't think there will be any more soybeans grown, but I think there will be a greater stress on bushels per acre," said Davis.

While the plant itself would be located in Clay County, they're not the only ones who stand to gain from the production of bio-fuels. Area farmers in Missouri and Arkansas would benefit from another potential buyer and that would lower transportation costs.

"Plus, we'll get a premium for the product, instead of having to truck it to the river to get a premium," said Davis.

While there are other biodiesel plants nearby in Dexter and Braggadocio. This one will be unique to the area. Those plants must receive their soy bean oil from the nearest soy bean crusher in Stuttgart. According to Natural Fuels LLC interim president David Luter, this plant will have a crusher on site.

"In order to have biodiesel conversion, you have to have oil. If we can produce the oil locally, then again we will have that transportation advantage," said Luter.

With the crusher, the plant will be able to produce enough soy bean oil to help supply other area biodiesel plants.

"It's going to be 40 to 50 jobs, but the boost from the other byproducts that produced from the soybean will help the local economy," said Davis.

Natural Fuels hopes to break ground on the plant sometime in 2008 and in the next decade help to make Region 8 a hub for the biofuel industry.

"That's kind of what we envision. Start out with the crush and move to the soy oil conversion and then we have already been in discussions about an ethanol plant," said Luter.

In order to fund the project Natural Fuels is looking for local investors. They plan to have meetings across Region 8. The group's next meeting is Tuesday in Pocahontas at Black River Tech at 6:30 p.m.