Biofuel company allowed to solicit investors for new ethanol plant

Friday, July 6, 2007 | 2:00 p.m. CDT; updated 12:46 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

NEVADA, Mo. — A Liberal-based biofuel company has been given the go-ahead by federal regulators to begin soliciting investors for a new ethanol plant to be built near Nevada.

Kerry Rose, president of Ozark Ethanol LLC, said the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has approved construction of an ethanol plant with a capacity of more than 50 million gallons a year.

Rose said investors are being sought from Kansas, Missouri and Illinois.

“We are unique in the fact that we are open to nonproducing investors, which means that you do not have to be a corn grower or involved in the business in any way to become an investor,” he said. “This way it is open to everyone and becomes more truly community owned.”

The company will begin conducting meetings next week for potential investors, with the minimum purchase set at 10,000 units at $2 apiece. Cost of the project has been estimated at $75 million.

Rose said early investment numbers are promising.

“Our campaign is going very well so far,” he said. “The meetings on Tuesday will give potential investors the opportunity to ask questions and gather more information about the new facility.”

He said construction is expected to begin during the final quarter of this year. Once in operation, the plant is expected to create 36 full-time jobs and bring millions of dollars of economic development into the area.

An economic impact study by Missouri Southern State University shows a yearly payout of more than $14 million to crop producers, $13 million in annual tax revenue and a payroll of $2 million.

The plant would be the second new biofuel facility in Vernon County under construction this year. Construction of a $90 million soy-diesel plant owned by Prairie Pride began last summer, and the company expects to begin production in August.

That plant is expected to convert 21 million bushels of beans each year into 30 million gallons of biodiesel fuel and 486,000 tons of soybean meal that can be fed to livestock, company officials said.

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