SIKESTON -- The Sikeston Area Chamber of Commerce's most recent efforts to grow the region's economy in a new direction is beginning to take root.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon announced recently the SACC would receive $75,000 for its Missouri Delta Ag Bioworks.
"Our top priority from day one has been to create and protect Missouri jobs and help folks get back to work," Nixon said in announcing the grant. The money is part of a $635,000 Delta Regional Authority grant made available to the administration for continued investment into Missouri's economy.
This grant, along with two others sought by the Chamber's Ag Business Committee, will be used to bring together the local agricultural community with the U.S. and global businesses sectors to develop new local economic opportunities. Missouri Delta Ag Bioworks is an effort of the Chamber's AG Business Committee, said SACC Executive Director Missy Marshall.
"This is a project we have been working on the last couple of years and it is finally coming to pass. The different entities have realized this is an area of economic growth that need to be embraced," she said.
Marshall explained, the region is already known for its ability to produce an abundance of crops from corn to cotton to rice and soybeans. Missouri Delta Ag Bioworks wants to bring industries which will make use of what scientists call biomass - the stalks and leaves left behind in the fields after the harvest.
Scientists are already using this crop residue as a renewable source of energy. Marshall said that is just the beginning of its possibilities.
"The new ag economy can be energy - it can also be food or pharmaceuticals. There are chemical components from crop residue used to make plastic," she said. "Literally anything a petroleum product may be involved in can be produced."
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"This is a different way of trying to grow the economy and to increase the diversity of the economy of our area," said Marshall. "What we don't want to do is displace dollars currently in our ag economy, but instead develop additional revenue for the ag folks."