Ethanol Plant Restores Hope To Depressed Upstate New York Town

Can an ethanol plant restore economic vitality to a depressed, upstate New York farming and former railroad community? That is the hope for the state's first ethanol plant, which breaks ground next month.
May 21, 2006, 7am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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"The railroad once carried the economy of this rural town and its upstate New York neighbors."

"But the industrial base of western New York has slowly withered over the last 50 years, with people following jobs out of the region."

"Now, however, local officials are hoping to parlay the railroads, the region's agricultural base and a growing interest in alternative forms of fuel into an economic rebirth.

Western New York Energy, headed by a farmer who has lived in the area all his life and is backed by local investors, announced last week that it intends to build an $87 million ethanol production facility on an old cabbage farm in Shelby."

"Shelby's location in the midst of a traditionally agricultural area and adjacent to an underused rail line makes it a natural site for the ethanol plant, said John Sawyer, Western New York Energy's chief executive."

"Groundbreaking at the 144-acre site is set for June, with production expected to begin by January 2008. Company officials hope it will be the first functioning ethanol plant in the state."

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Published on Wednesday, May 10, 2006 in The New York Times
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