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"People like myself choose to live in Nebraska. I grew up here. We choose to make our homes here. We want the state's economy, the state's environment to be good and prosperous. So, we work with those things that we think will help enhance those goals. So, many of us do take exception to some of the representations made by the oil industry that there are only large corporate agri-companies that are the beneficiaries of this [ethanol subsidies] when I can see in my own hometown of Hastings what two ethanol plants have helped to do to stimulate the businesses of some of my classmates from 30-some years ago, to stimulate the tax base, to provide more money for the school coffers, to create really a better, more viable economic environment for communities like that. And it's not just communities of 20-some thousand. There are smaller communities of 500 and 1,000 people really recognize the importance of having these types of businesses that give them economic prosperity. In the absence of that, we're going to continue to see an outflow of the best and brightest young people. We've got to create really professional opportunities, and we've got to do that on a statewide basis. We can't sustain the state's economy if only Lincoln and Omaha are prospering. It's important to have our smaller communities prosper, as well. And really nothing plays as well to the state's ag economy as a whole as the livestock, ethanol and corn industries, particularly when they're intertwined as they are today with the ethanol industry at play…
     "We've seen this ethanol story come home time and time again. We were working with a group up in the Atkinson area. Atkinson is a very small community. It's off the rail line. It's really off the beaten path. But it's a very viable community, and its residents are proud of the community and what they've been able to do. But the writing is on the wall. They have seen that many of the young people in the community move off, get an education and don't come back home. They've seen many of the small businesses not get passed on to that next generation because that young person has left the area. They see a load of corn leave the area followed the next day by a load of calves that follow that corn out of the area. So, talking to local bankers and local development people in the Atkinson area, they made it very clear to me and to others who were working with them on the ethanol development project that they didn't want to hear why an ethanol plant couldn't be located there. They wanted us to focus on working with them on why it would be built there. And while it's taken them four years, which seems like a long time, there is a 40-million-gallon-a-year ethanol plant being built in Atkinson, Nebraska, today [2007]. And as we anticipated, we're seeing a significant level of business activity that otherwise would not have existed there. And one day soon they'll be processing corn at that location. And they'll be making distiller's grains which will be fed to cattle which will stay in the area to take advantage of that. And what we'll see then is fat calves and fat cattle being marketed out of that area instead of young calves leaving to follow that corn and going somewhere else. We'll see people who are hired to work at that plant that will include people who have an engineering background, microbiology background, corn merchandizing background, finance background. So, the opportunity for professional jobs and also some of the skilled trades people in the area, whether they are welders or equipment operators, will have opportunities for employment there, as well. We've seen in our salary surveys that the counties that host these facilities have a significantly higher annual average salary than adjacent counties that don't have an ethanol plant."

Todd Sneller – New Economic Development

   

Excerpts from Todd Sneller’s Interview:

The Bust of the 80s
Afghan Boycott & Ethanol
Ethanol in Brazil
Alternative Ethanol Sources
Biofuel Obstacles
Environmental Laws & Agriculture
Mining Water