MARION, OHIO, U.S. — POET Biorefining recently opened an 80-million gallon expansion at its Marion, Ohio, U.S., facility. The $120 million project also added 225 temporary jobs throughout the course of construction.

With the expansion in place, POET Biorefining Marion now has an annual capacity of 150 million gallons of clean-burning biofuel and 360,000 tons of high-protein animal feed per year. New production from the facility adds 26 million bushels of annual corn demand for area farmers.

Jeff Lautt, president and chief operating officer of POET, said the facility has enjoyed strong community support and successful operation since it first started producing biofuel.

“Marion and the entire state of Ohio have been fantastic partners throughout the growth of POET and the entire biofuel industry,” Lautt said. “This expansion will dramatically expand local farmers’ markets for grain and provide about 20 new jobs for the area. We’re excited to build on our relationship with the hard-working people here in Marion.”

According to POET, more than four years of low commodity prices across the Midwest have created severe challenges for farmers. Recent instability in trade markets have aggravated the problem, highlighting the need for long-term, stable, domestic grain demand.

Jeff Broin, chief executive officer, said the answer is E15, a 15% biofuel blend that — due to an outdated regulation — is only approved for use from September to June.

“We can reinvigorate the rural economy with more investments like this when Americans finally get the freedom to buy E15 year-round,” Broin said. “Nationwide adoption of E15 will add 2 billion bushels of corn demand per year, bringing down worldwide surpluses and increasing commodity prices for farmers here at home. America needs more cleaner-burning homegrown fuels, and farm families in communities like Marion desperately need the added value that year-round E15 can deliver.”

Rick Fox, general manager, said the team members, farmers and community members should be proud of their success over the last decade.

“This expansion is a testament to what our team members and farmers have accomplished here since the plant opened 10 years ago,” he said. “This community has emerged as a leader in producing clean, homegrown fuel for drivers across America and around the world.”