Letter: Iowa is positioned to lead in next biorevolution

Source: By Audrey Regan, Iowa State Daily • Posted: Thursday, January 26, 2017

After the passing of the Iowa Renewable Chemicals Production Tax Credit program, and the Environmental Protection Agency’s move to increase biofuel volumes in its 2017 renewable fuel standards, Iowa is more attractive to the biochemical industry than ever before.

Iowa’s prospective biochemical industry offers growth potential for our state on par with what the ethanol industry held in the early 2000s, according to a white paper commissioned by Iowa’s Cultivation Corridor and the Iowa Biotechnology Association.

Three prominent Iowa State researchers authored the report, “Bio-Based Chemicals: The Iowa Opportunity,” and found that in the early 2000s, Iowa corn production was lower than the Dakotas and comparable to prices in Nebraska, Missouri and Minnesota, yet it was our state that emerged as the undisputed center of gravity for the biofuels industry in the foregoing decade and a half.

Why? Iowa did not gain its competitive advantage until the state moved aggressively to establish incentive programs to accommodate the growth of the emerging biofuels industry.

The Iowa tax credits proved crucial to the early growth of the biofuels industry in Iowa, the white paper argues, and the Iowa Biorenewable Chemical Tax Credit Program, created in 2016, will prove just as invaluable to the growth of this new bioindustry.

The white paper points to potential future biochemical investments from companies including Kemin Industries, Corn Oil One and Renewable Energy Group, all of which have called Iowa’s first-mover status in creating the biochemical tax credit an important step toward realizing new investment here.

Here in Ames, research and commercialization assets including the Ames Laboratory, Center for Biorenewable Chemicals, Center for Bioplastics and Biocomposites and the Center for Crops Utilization Research support the biochemical industry in Iowa and represent perhaps the most potent concentration of research assets anywhere in the world for this biochemical industry.

With the state’s strong background in the bio-based chemicals industry, Iowa is not only ready to capitalize on the next frontier of bioprocessing but it is also ready to lead the way.

By Audrey Regan is a senior in public relations and intern at Iowa’s Cultivation Corridor