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IRRRB approves financing for $105M biochemical project in NE Minn.

VIRGINIA, Minn. - A Twin Cities biochemical company promising to turn trees from Minnesota forests into valuable chemicals will get $28.2 million in public financing after action Tuesday by the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board.

The IRRRB unanimously approved its share of the public loans and grants for Segetis Inc. to build a $105 million project in the Laskin Energy Center industrial park in Hoyt Lakes, Minn.

The plant would start small, using corn-based feedstock to derive sugars that would be made into levulinic acid, a key building block used to make plastics and cleaning compounds. The company plans to expand and use biomass from forest products to get the same results, using up to 400,000 cords of wood per year.

Segetis, founded in 2006, is pushing its proprietary process as an environmentally friendly alternative to chemical building blocks made from fossil fuels.

Segetis, based in Golden Valley, would employ about 50 people at first in Hoyt Lakes, and then expand to 70 people once at full capacity. The project is expected to create more than 200 spin-off supply and support jobs at other businesses and have a $50 million annual economic impact on northeastern Minnesota.