Thursday, June 14, 2007

The next step

My talk last night went pretty well. We had some minor technical difficulties in the beginning, but it all turned out OK. There were roughly 40 or so folks there, and they were split pretty evenly regarding their political affiliations. But it was well received I felt, and I worked to focus on the science and the commonalities rather than anything divisive which, honestly, doesn't accomplish anything anyway.

Lots of folks were interested in the new biofuels development going on in the state, and I said that this state was teetering on the edge of becoming a leader in the renewable fuels market. We have the research facilities thanks to the University System of Georgia. We have plenty of farm land that can be used. We just need a concerted plan to help encourage the development of that industry.

So, I ask this ... is it feasible to work to bring a biofuel refinery to Athens-Clarke County? We see that Alterra Bioenergy set up shop in Plains, and it seems to me that we have an ideal location.

If there's any community that would be receptive to such a venture, it would be this one. It would bring about well-paying, contemporary manufacturing jobs. It would put us on the cutting edge of an emerging technology.

I'm optimistic about bringing biomedical research facilities here and developing this area into a corridor similar to Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill. But I also like the notion that we work with our surrounding areas to become a leader in the renewable fuels industry.

Developing both of those industries and luring those types of businesses to this community would bring a welcome boom of new job growth to this community.


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