The dream of an Iowa-based regional center for the development of bioproducts and the bioenergy is closer to becoming reality.
MCG BioComposites LLC has signed on as the marketing and recruiting arm of the newly named TechWorks, which occupies a former Deere & Co. site in Waterloo, Iowa.
``We're going after entrepreneurs who want to have incubator space; and secondly, we're looking for companies [that] want to locate near a biomass tech center,'' said Sam McCord, president and chief executive officer of MCG BioComposites, in a phone interview.
TechWorks exists partly due to a $17.4 million contribution of buildings, land, technical assistance and financial resources by Deere in 2007.
McCord said TechWorks sits on a 40-acre campus with buildings that have a total of 342,000 square feet. Officials will focus on filling six floors of its first building, totaling about 150,000 square feet. TechWorks also has space on its campus for more buildings for companies that wish to design and build their own plants.
Cary Darrah, general manager of TechWorks, said the program has been in the works for years and is finally becoming a reality. The first tenant, the National Ag-Based Lubricant Center, which formed at the University of Northern Iowa, plans to occupy the third floor of the first building this spring. The company has developed soy-based biolubricants and is certified to test them.
Darrah said the group had many inquiries, but ``we're now at the point where we can make some commitments.''
The first building could hold up to 12-15 businesses, she said. The buildings are next to a Deere facility, and Darrah sees that as an advantage for suppliers.
She said the campus will include a building that will showcase agriculture's importance.
MCG BioComposites, based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, formed in August 2007 by McCord to provide business development and sales and marketing of bio-resin materials and products. It also brokers recycled plastics.
McCord said MCG has worked on formulations and the development of biomass resins. As an example, he said they are working on adding corncob flour to such resins as polypropylene and polyethylene.
``The green initiative has been strong because [original equipment manufacturers] are leading the charge and John Deere is right at the forefront,'' McCord said.
It makes sense to have this kind of center in Iowa, he added, because the state produces more than 33 million dry tons of biomass annually.