Gibson City ethanol plant operation seeks area investors

GIBSON CITY – One Earth Energy LLC, a cooperative of five area grain companies that plan to build an ethanol plant near Gibson City, will begin offering individuals a chance to invest in the operation.

The first of several planned informational meetings for potential investors will be Monday at Kruse Center in Gibson City.

Investors will be asked to invest a minimum of $25,000 and will receive five units of ownership in return. A minimum of $30.1 million (6,020 units) and a maximum of $60.1 million (12,020 units) will be sold, according to documents registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Registration does not mean the commission has approved or disapproved of the securities that will be offered by One Earth Energy, and the shares will not be traded on any public stock exchange, according to statements made in SEC filings.

Organizers expect to reach potential investors in a five-state area through advertising, direct mailing and local marketing efforts. More information will be available at the company's Web site, www.oneearthenergy.com.

The project's estimated total cost is $155.5 million, including operating capital. Organizers expect to raise that money through a combination of debt and equity capital. They are also seeking local and state financial incentives as well as government grants for the project.

Five Illinois grain cooperatives formed One Earth Energy, an Illinois limited liability corporation, in November 2005. Each invested an equal amount, contributing a total of $1,425,000 in start-up funds.

The group of cooperatives consists of Alliance Grain, Gibson City; Fisher Farmers Grain, Fisher; Grand Prairie Co-op, Tolono; Ludlow Cooperative Elevator, Ludlow; and Topflight Grain Cooperative, Bement.

One Earth Energy also plans to obtain equity financing through a single institutional investor, Farmers Energy, Inc. (FEI), a subsidiary of Rex.Stores Corporation, a Dayton-based electronics retailer.

"We feel very confident with the other four cooperatives in this venture because they are all strong cooperatives," said Steve Docherty, manager of Top Flight Grain in Bement and vice president of One Earth Energy board of directors.

The plant will produce ethanol through the dry-milling method. Currently, organizers expect the plant to be completed in the summer of 2008.

The plant is expected to consume 36 million bushels of corn from local markets in the six-county area surrounding the proposed site in Ford County. Organizers plan to sell most of the plant's anticipated 100-million gallon ethanol production nationally through an ethanol marketing firm.

The principal co-product of this type of ethanol production is distiller's grain. Steve Kelly, manager of Alliance Grain Co. and president of One Earth Energy, said there will be other economic benefits from the ethanol plant. He said the area also could expect a one-time boost during the construction phase, indirect employment associated with the plant and an economic benefit from the plant's annual spending.

Even though applications for ethanol plants are increasing throughout Illinois, Kelly feels the outlook for the ethanol industry remains good.

"The timing couldn't be better for the ethanol industry and One Earth Energy," he said.

Persons interested in more information on One Earth Energy's statement to the SEC can access it at www.secinfo.com.

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