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Michigan meeting eyes biotechnology potential
By SHELLY STRAUTZ-SPRINGBORN
Michigan Correspondent

LANSING, Mich. — The first ever Michigan Bio-Economy Summit to explore the potential of biotechnology is planned for Sept. 20-21 at the Lansing Center in downtown Lansing.

Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Michigan State University (MSU) President Lou Anna K. Simon will be among the featured speakers.

“The governor is committed to make biotechnology and agriculture a cornerstone of our economy,” said Jim Byrum, president of the Michigan Bio-Economy Consortium.

“The Bio-Economy Summit will be a great opportunity for farmers, researchers, businesses, manufacturers and entrepreneurs to come together and work in partnership so we can tap the fullest potential of the new bio-economy,” he said.

“Gov. Granholm’s participation, along with Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon, sends a clear signal that Michigan is fully committed to investing in emerging industries such as alternative fuels and high-tech agriculture.”

Speakers will include top state and national leaders in the fields of biotechnology, renewable fuels and methane production, commercial and industrial opportunities and researchers.

In addition, MSU faculty and Extension educators will offer presentations on facets of bioeconomy research and development that is underway at the university’s East Lansing campus and throughout the state.

Breakout sessions during the event will cover topics of ethanol production and marketing, biodiesel production techniques and the technology behind cellulosic ethanol production.

“Michigan is uniquely positioned to build a new, expanded bioeconomy that connects our strengths in agriculture, forestry and natural resources with commensurate strengths in industry and manufacturing to create a new, sustainable bio-based sector,” said Steven Pueppke, director of the MSU Office of Bio-Based Technologies.

Under Granholm’s watch, Michigan recently implemented a $2 billion economic stimulus and job creation package that will help invest in high-tech, emerging industries.

The industries include alternative fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel, both renewable fuels that are gaining traction in Michigan. The package also dedicates grant money to Michigan farmers.

“Thanks to our strong agriculture sector, Michigan is in a great position to become a leader in the new bio-economy,” Byrum said. “Agricultural crops are the foundation for new ethanol and biodiesel plants and are helping us produce plastics and other components for the manufacturing sector.

“By working together and embracing these new technologies, we can truly turn our agricultural land into major suppliers of raw materials for a 21st century bio-based economy,” he said.

Byrum said the conference will offer sessions “for about any level of interest in the bioeconomy.”

The summit also will focus on how to actually attract these new industries and what state and federal programs and policies can help local municipalities participate in the bio-based economy.

Michigan’s agricultural and biotechnology sectors currently account for more than $60 billion in economic output and 1 million jobs annually. Industry leaders predict that new bio-economy ventures would create $1 billion more in revenue and create up to 23,000 more jobs a year. Ethanol production alone has the potential to generate $400 million in annual revenue.

“This is far more to the Bio-Economy than ethanol, and much more to ethanol than an ingredient to blend with gasoline,” Byrum said. “The opportunities we have in Michigan to lead these new industries are virtually limitless.”

Registration for the two-day Bio-Economy Summit is $325. One-day registration is $200. To register or for more information contact the Michigan Agri-Business Assoc. at 517-336-0223 or e-mail maba@miagbiz.org

Visit www.miagbiz.org for the program and online registration materials.

This farm news was published in the Sept. 13, 2006 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.

9/13/2006