I received the Nevada Economic Development Council’s newsletter at the end of the past week, and it’s always interesting to see what that important community entity has been up to.

The newsletter’s main feature was about the DuPont cellulosic ethanol facility being on schedule for completion in the second half of this year. The over $200 million facility will be among the first commercial-scale cellulosic bio-refineries in the world, and is one of five commercial plants currently underway in the United States.

Some interesting facts about DuPont, as pointed out in the newsletter: The plant will produce 30 million gallons of fuel at full capacity; DuPont will collect corn stover from a 30-mile radius around the facility, from more than 500 local farmers each year; DuPont will employ close to 85 full-time personnel and at its peak, expects to employ more than 1,000 construction jobs and 150 seasonal workers to collect, transport and help store the corn stover; DuPont will be greenhouse-gas neutral, with zero net carbon dioxide emissions; and commercial production is expected to start in the second half of 2014.

Going hand-in-hand with DuPont was another featured item in the NEDC newsletter about DuPont working together with the Story County Sheriff’s Office to establish a first-ever "Farm Watch" program in Iowa to enhance security and safety of rural residents and farmers. Farm Watch is an offshoot of the National Sheriffs’ Association’s Neighborhood Watch and involves rural community citizens in an effort to prevent crime in areas surrounded by farms and large parcels of land.

Story County Sheriff Paul Fitzgerald is quoted in the newsletter, saying, "Farm Watch helps reduce opportunities for crime to occur in farming and rural communities. Essential to this is encouraging people to report suspicious incidents to law enforcement officials as they occur and also share the information with other Farm Watch members. As well as helping to deter crime, this strengthens community spirit, with everyone working together to protect their property."

To learn more about Farm Watch, people are asked to contact Sgt. Randy Mortvedt with the Sheriff’s Office, at: rmortvedt@storycounty.com or 515-382-7458.

Another newsletter item shared an update on the Ryerson Implement facility, being built on a 30-acre site in the Nevada West Business Park, just north of Highway 30. According to Manager Rick Hawbaker, the $7-8 million project is scheduled for completion at the end of April, and opening in June.

And a last item that interested me was about NEDC Director LaVon Schiltz being invited to testify at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hearing regarding renewable fuels standard changes, as proposed by the EPA.

Shiltz spoke about Nevada owing much of its economic stability to fertile land and its agricultural producers. She talked about the building of Lincolnway Energy, of which all stockholders are Iowa residents, many from the local area. She pointed out that Lincolnway Energy has helped local and regional corn producers to realize a more profitable return on their corn production.

She also talked about DuPont, and its desire to utilize corn stover to produce ethanol. "In a community this size, and with a primary base dependent upon agriculture, the local merchants, service providers, professionals, financial institutions, implement dealers and average citizen population have a stake in the success of our agricultural neighbors."

It was mentioned that the local service station, Good & Quick, recently installed additional ethanol blend pumps for dispensing of 15-20-30 and 85 percent ethanol blend. "Nearlys 95 percent of his business is in ethanol blends." Schilz said she salutes Good & Quick owner Charlie Good for his support and belief in renewable energy.

Schiltz said that over the past decade, rural communities have seen a resurgence of commerce and quality of life, much due to the biofuel industry. "Now is not the time to pull the rug out from under," she said. "We must not have a repeat of the ’80s."

Schiltz urged the EPA to retain the current modified RFS that was put in place in 2007. She said she understands that the petroleum industry is a business that needs to be profitable, but "not when attained through greed and elimination of other alternatives in the marketplace."

It is always interesting to read about the NEDC - their success stories and their issues. The NEDC currently has four premier members, five platinum members, two gold members and over 50 silver members. Members can be businesses or individuals. Consider supporting the NEDC by becoming a member.

(Marlys Barker is editor of the Nevada Journal.)