Innovative minds are leading the agricultural and manufacturing industries of Hillsdale County toward a productive future.
The Hillsdale Economic Development Partnership (HEDP) hosted a meeting for its Farm2Factory bio-manufacturing initiative on Thursday, September 15, at Johnny T's to discuss their goals and gain support from farmers and manufacturers in the county.
"This was an initial meeting to bring the manufacturing and agricultural communities together and have a conversation about what the opportunities are and what part they play," said Sue Smith, executive director of HEDP. "The heavy lifting has been done (for this project), we just need to bring it to the local level."
The project will focus on different ways to utilize crops - mainly soy and corn in this area - for production parts for global customers. Soy and corn's non-edible bio-mass can be used to make products ranging from alternative fuel, to coffee cups, to comforters and diapers.
Eighty percent of the soy grown in Michigan is sent out of state for processing. Leaders at the meeting believe that this is a waste of money and resources. One of the purposes of the meeting was for the mapping of assets in the community to help everyone realize their combined potential.
"It's my job to look for opportunities for Hillsdale County to utilize what we have in the agriculture community for the greater good,"Smith said. "this is a very natural fit."
"The County Commissioners will work with the community (for this project). We're not going to stand in people's way. We're going to encourage you the best we can." District 1 commissioner Pare Hayes told those present.
Hillsdale County has the resources available to process their own crops for manufacturing products and certainly the crops. According to the Hillsdale Council, 78 percent of the acreage in the county is cropland.
The HEDP also has the benefit of resources at the state universities to further their research. It has recently been discovered by a research team led by Michigan State University that using an ammonia-based solvent may make pretreating biomass to be used for bio-fuel easier and more cost-effective.
"This is something that CAN happen. We CAN make a difference," said Davie Cloyd, vice president of project management at Fairway Innovations and one of the guests present. "We have the opportunity to make a change and give this community what it needs - hope."
The Economic Development Partnership of Hillsdale held a kick off meeting of its Farm2Factory bio-manufacturing initiative on September 15th from 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM at Johnny T’s in Hillsdale. The meeting combined local area farmers and manufacturers to begin the planning and implementation of work that will focus on using local bio mass for manufacture of production parts for global customers. This is the first time the EDP has asked local farmers and local manufacturers to work together to create local profits and local jobs for in the county. The meeting was a follow up to the kick off of the regional Farm2Factory meeting held in March 2011. Hillsdale is one of three counties receiving grant funding from the Department of Labor, Energy and Economic Growth. The grant funding was procured through South Central Michigan Works!. The funding will enable local employers from agricultural and manufacturing to plan for new product development and implement a county plan to increase jobs and manufacturing capacity through product or process diversification. Bio based manufacturing is in its early stages, but is becoming a profitable means to create environmentally friendly manufacturing processes and products, and well known companies like Ford Motor Company are beginning to use these parts in their products.
Corn and Soybean are the main crops in the county that will receive the attention of this initiative. Below are real life examples of industry using bio based products. The Hillsdale initiative will be a catalyst for local farmers, manufacturers, educational and governmental resources. Hillsdale has been hard hit by manufacturing downturns in recent years. The EDP is incorporating this initiative with its other strategies to get employment up, help our manufacturers diversify, and assist our farmers maintain their integral role in our local economy. Agricultural is a vital economic engine for county jobs and the diversification of county products. The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, The Corn Growers Association, local leaders in soybean production and diversified uses, South Central Michigan Works, and JAMA will be at the meeting.
FORD PIONEERS PATENT-PENDING USE OF ECO-FRIENDLY SOY OIL IN RUBBER AUTOMOTIVE PARTS (from Media.Ford.Com. Ford’s researchers find that using renewable soy oil as a 25 percent replacement for petroleum oil more than doubles rubber’s stretchability and reduces its environmental impact:
Ford’s biomaterial researchers are applying for a patent for soy oil-based rubber that can be used in automotive parts such as deflector shields and baffles, radiator deflector shields, cupholder inserts and floor mats
Ford previously pioneered the use of soy oil in foam for seat cushions, seatbacks and vehicle headliners; there are more than 2 million Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles on the road today with bio-based foam content.
Sustainable solutions Ford is a pioneer in the use of biomaterials in vehicles. Ford was the first automaker to demonstrate that soy-based foams could be formulated to pass stringent requirements for automotive applications, starting with seats for the 2008 Ford Mustang and headliners for the 2010 Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner. The new 2011 Ford Explorer will become the 23rd model to feature soy foam.
With bio foam on more than 2 million vehicles, Ford has annually reduced its petroleum oil usage by more than 3 million pounds and its carbon dioxide emissions by 11 million pounds.