Soy Innovation Campus takes center stage at Crookston open house

Crookston leaders, state legislators, Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) staff and members of the Epitome Energy team took center stage Sept. 5 in Crookston to celebrate innovation, and the kick-off of the permitting process.

Roughly 100 people attended Epitome Energy’s announcement that the permitting process was under way for the Soy Innovation Campus. On Aug. 27, the biofuel’s company received a $250,000 loan from the City of Crookston to be used toward the building of a large soybean crush and biodiesel facility.

“Today was just a fantastic day to highlight the partnerships that have been developed with Epitome Energy, with the Soy Innovation Campus team and with AURI,” said Dennis Egan, CEO for Epitome Energy.

Also on hand was Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council (MSR&PC) CEO Tom Slunecka, who gave a presentation on the status of the Soy Innovation Campus, which received a boost from with $5 million in funding during the 2019 legislative session.

“This is the first time in the nation that a center like this will be built,” he told the crowd. “It took the vision of Sen. (Mark) Johnson and Rep. (Deb) Kiel to be able to carry that bill forward.”

Slunecka said the Crookston event was an important one, because it showed people in the community and surrounding counties how far the project has come, and how much of an impact it can have on the region.

Commissioner of Agriculture Thom Petersen also attended the celebration announcement. He said the Epitome Energy project, while not shovel ready, is an excellent opportunity for Minnesota.

“It’s a very exciting project for Crookston and also Polk County, which is the top soybean producing county in the state,” he said. “We’re really looking at adding value to our soybean crop in Minnesota and this project will do that, not only for this area but also for the state of Minnesota.”

Once operational, the crush and biodiesel facilities could increase the value of soybeans by reducing the basis in northwest Minnesota by an estimated 20 cents per bushel. The facility aims to generate nearly $323 million in new economic activity in northwest Minnesota.

“This event was really about celebrating Epitome Energy and the work Dennis and his team have done,” Slunecka said. “Everyone could see the progress of the project and see the opportunity to get involved.”

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