Statement from our CEO

Healing the planet’s atmosphere is a pretty straightforward proposition. Basically, we stop burning fossil fuels to produce energy for electricity, heat, and transportation and replace them with renewable energy such as wind, solar, and biofuels.

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Will a Mason City pig roast become our origin story?

Aug 7, 2023

In the days before June 6, a large sign was installed at the entrance to a cornfield. Ads ran in the Globe Gazette. Announcements were made on the radio. Flyers around town invited the community to a pig roast. Meet your new neighbor, we were saying, and give us the chance to get to know you.

            And on that particular Thursday afternoon, with the sun brightening and the humidity rising, a big white tent went up, tables were set, the Sweet Nuthins’ bandstand was erected, the pig roast was trucked in, and KIAI-FM radio readied a live broadcast from the site.

            It was the community’s introduction to our 80-acre field of dreams. On this small patch of Iowa real estate where a farmer now grows corn, New Energy Blue spoke about  a brilliant new energy future—ethanol made not from corn grain but from corn stalks. On the south 40, you’ll see a first-of-its-kind biomass refinery erected by late 2025. And on the north 40, an international hub of agronomy research, technical training, and climate-healing innovation.

            A decade or two from now, as New Energy Blue leaders looks back of their successes in healing a damaged climate, and Mason City elders reflect on the parts they played, perhaps these will be among the stories they tell about how it all began.

A farmer is out spraying his field, listening to KIAI in his tractor. He hears Britt Bailey broadcasting live from the Pig Roast, and she airs an interview with Tom Corle, our CEO. When he returns to house, he says to his wife, “Don’t fix anything to eat. We’re having dinner with Tom. He’s just invited us to his Pig Roast.” When the farmer and his wife arrive, he approaches a tall, lean man and asks, “Are you Tom? You invited us to have dinner with you, and here we are. I want to hear why you want my corn stover.”

“I was the one that came out here the very first time to start looking at the property for the company. And it was wide-open arms, starting with the economic development group… Sean and Chad, the local utilities, local city officials, everybody welcomed us 100%.”                               –James Foster, VP Construction, as interviewed by Britt Bailey  

“One of the most interesting things for me, beyond the project itself, is the location.

My dad was born and raised in Lake Mills, Iowa, 34 miles from the plant site. I have a relative in Mason City and cousins who farm in the area. So even though I haven’t lived around here for 55 years—I’ve been living in South Central Minnesota, Southwestern Minnesota, and now Utah—I’m proud to be part of a biomass refinery project that can improve the farming community in Mason City, Iowa.”

“Right now we’re in our engineering stages. Next spring we’ll come in here and break ground, then at that point we’ll get into full-blown construction. It’s going to be an exciting project. We’re looking forward to being here in the community, bringing a lot of jobs. Whether it’s electrical or mechanical or valves or anything to do with building a plant of this size, we’ll reach out to the local vendors and community first. That’s the best part, doing something local, doing something for the community.”

“I was elected to do the planning for this event. When you have as many daughters as I do and plan several weddings, you get a kinda good at this stuff. But I’ve got to give a shout-out to Nicki Dutcher of Edward Jones. She really helped me pull together all the local vendors—local band, local beer, local radio. Thanks, Nicki.”      

“I tried to talk my wife into moving out here. We live south of Nashville, and I said, ‘Let’s  move to Iowa. I’ll be home every night for the next two years.’ She said, “oh, it’s too cold out there. You’ve been traveling for 25 years, keep on traveling. I’ll be home when you get here.’ ”

As the evening was coming to a close, a gray-haired woman approached Tom and Jesus Atias, Dow’s representative, to say goodbye. “I taught school here most of my life, and I always impressed upon my students the importance of caring for the environment. You’re the first company I’ve ever heard talk who really understands that.” And Tom replied, “Maybe some of your students will end up working here and help us do that.”       —as told by Tom and Jesus Atias, the Dow Chemical project leader