Producers Seek Solid Boardsmanship, Community Goodwill

By Susanne Retka Schill | December 27, 2010
This issue of Ethanol Producer Magazine focuses on two aspects of ethanol plants-boardsmanship and community outreach. For our cover story, Associate Editor Holly Jessen spoke to a number of ethanol plant board members, along with industry professionals who advise them, to learn more about effective boardsmanship. Jessen's story on community outreach-"Building Goodwill"-includes a nugget of wisdom: If you get the kids involved, you get the parents, too. Many ethanol producers welcome students of all ages for tours of their plants. Some plants get high school students involved in laboratory internships and others give students in science classes a chance to see how science is applied in industry. Not only will the students learn about ethanol, but some will become future employees. Although it may take some time away from the job on the part of plant personnel, such efforts are seen as good ways to give back to the community and build support for ethanol. With all the distortions and negative press that ethanol sees, every effort needs to be made to help people better understand how the ethanol process works and how it helps our rural communities and the nation. Associate Editor Kris Bevill rounds out our feature section this month, writing about the frustrations among those pursuing U.S. DOE loan guarantees. Ideas are emerging with a goal of getting the bogged-down program rolling. Some would have predicted the problems. I remember when covering the development of the most recent Farm Bill, a congressman suggested it would be better for the USDA to handle loan guarantees because it has so much experience in administering such programs. He suggested the DOE focus its efforts on funding and coordinating research, an area of its demonstrated expertise. Obviously, his ideas weren't incorporated into the Farm Bill. We are seeing USDA trying to maximize what programs it can, however, to support biofuels. Here's hoping the agency's program to cost-share the installation of 10,000 blender pumps over the next five years is a rousing success.