Going Strong

Ethanol industry growing in Indiana, even in times of economic distress
By Holly Jessen | July 22, 2011

Indiana is now the fifth largest ethanol producing state—representing 7.5 percent of the total U.S. industry, according to a recently released study conducted by Informa Economics and commissioned by Indiana Corn Marketing Council. “As our ethanol industry continues to grow in Indiana, it’s important to continue to assess the industry’s impact on our state’s economy,” says Greg Noble, ICMC biofuels director. “Hoosier ethanol producers now have the ability to produce over one million gallons of ethanol each year and are generating $3.2 billion annually in sales and revenues.”

Noble was touting the results of the study at the International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo, held in Indianapolis this year. There are 13 ethanol plants in the state, which produce a total of 1,095 MMgy of ethanol. In 2010, when a similar study was conducted, the state was in sixth place. Since that time construction was completed at the Aventine Renewable Energy plant in Mount Vernon and Poet LLC restarted the Cloverdale plant.

In all, 602 people work full-time jobs at the ethanol plants in the state, the 2011 study said. However, for each job at an ethanol plant, 4.8 additional jobs are created. That adds up to a total of nearly 3,500 full-time jobs created in the state.

On the money side, ethanol production created $1.5 billion in direct capital investment since 2006. It’s also responsible for a $497 million increase in gross state production and a $45 million increase in state taxes.

Ethanol has also made a difference to drivers in Indiana. The wholesale ethanol price in Indianapolis was $1.97, compared to $2.12 for wholesale gasoline, according to the Price Information Service. If applied to retail, the price differential would have saved consumers $47 million, according to the U.S. DOE.  “As Hoosier corn farmers, we are committed to increasing ethanol production within our state to improve the demand for our product,” says Mike Shuter, ICMC president and farmer from Frankton, Ind. “Our state’s ethanol industry is vital to Indiana’s economy, not only for the health and prosperity of Hoosier farmers, but also for consumers who see benefit at the pump with ethanol and the state’s economy as a whole. And this study has shown that the ethanol industry has even more potential for growth in our state, which is good for farmers and consumers alike.”

The study also points out that one-third of every bushel of corn that is used to produce ethanol comes out the back end as distillers grains. “As a corn checkoff (ICMC), we are looking at ways to make sure more of our corn is getting used inside of our state borders,” says Shuter. “Both ethanol and livestock production are key markets for our crop, so it’s great that this study shows that even while supplying the ethanol industry, we can still be suppliers to our livestock producers.” 

—Holly Jessen

On the web: A copy of the 2011 study is available at http://www.incorn.org.