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Study: Delta could sustain $8B bioeconomy

JACKSON — The Mississippi Technology Alliance (MTA) and the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) have concluded a five-state study that examined how established industries such as agriculture, biotechnology and chemistry can merge to create a new bioeconomy that is already valued at more than $140 billion in global sales.

The “Regional Strategy for Biobased Products in the Mississippi Delta” examined potential for agriculture and forestry revitalization through the development of new markets in 98 Delta counties. Initiated by the Memphis Bioworks Foundation, companies and organizations across Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee participated in the study. 

“Throughout history, circumstances have aligned to offer some places unique economic opportunities. Our needs for biobased products, the resources of the Mississippi Delta and a changing global economy present just such an opportunity. It’s ours to capture,” said Dr. Randy Goldsmith, president and CEO of MTA. The basis of the bioeconomy is using renewable biomass such as crop, forestry and animal-based materials to supplement petroleum in products such as fuels, polymers and industrial and household chemicals.

The comprehensive study found that embracing a bioeconomy in the Delta region will support more than 25,000 green jobs during the next 10 years and more than 50,000 jobs by 2030. The study shows that the region could sustain an $8-billion biofuels and bioproducts industry without affecting the food and feed supply chains, while increasing air quality, supporting local industries and bolstering national energy security.

“There are many opportunities available to Mississippi farmers, landowners and businesses in the development and production of energy from biomass,” said Gray Swoope, executive director MDA.

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