Roadmap for Minnesota's biobased chemicals industry sheds light on key opportunities

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Minnesota Roadmap: Recommendations for BioIndustrial Processing

The BioBusiness Alliance of Minnesota (BBAM) recently released a roadmap for the advanced biofuels and biobased chemicals industry: Minnesota Roadmap: Recommendations for BioIndustrial Processing. This study provides a very practical and relevant set of information for investors, businesses, and stakeholders across the value chain for renewable materials. The full report can be downloaded in full or in sections from the BBAM website.

According to the report, Minnesota has the potential to lead the growth of the national and international biofuels and biobased chemicals industry. Based on BBAM’s projections, direct and indirect employment in bioindustrial processing companies in Minnesota alone could total in excess of 13,000 by 2025, up from 2,000 in 2011.

This is a big deal for our region in particular, given the potential these industries have to reinvigorate our depressed forest products sector. To give a feel for what I’m talking about, take a look at this excerpt from the Forestry Section of the BioIndustrial Roadmap:

Global forces have caused the conventional forest products industry to suffer in Minnesota, with 1,995 jobs being eliminated by the recent decline in oriented strand board (OSB) alone. To recover these jobs, new markets for the processing of wood will be critical. As a result, there are biorefinery sites ready to be developed in partnership with the advanced biofuels and biochemicals industry. Bioindustrial processing is a high-value industry that can strengthen the forest supply chain infrastructure while adding new jobs to the region. By 2025, 1,400–2,300 direct and indirect jobs could be added to the northern Minnesota economy through forest based biorefineries, including new biorefineries as well as partnerships with the conventional biobased industry.

BioBased Products Value Chain

This report was developed by the BioIndustrial Partnership of Minnesota, which is a group of business, government, academic, and non-profit leaders supporting development of Minnesota’s advanced biofuels and biobased chemicals industry. It also includes specific policy recommendations developed through consensus by the Great Plains Institute.

Jeff Borling is the Interim President & CEO of Itasca Economic Development Corporation (IEDC).

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