CLEVELAND, OH—In a visit to Cleveland’s Sherwin-Williams today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack highlighted a new jobs initiative that would give federal procurement preference to companies that make biobased products. Investing in biobased products, which link two of Ohio’s most important industries—agriculture and manufacturing—could be a job-creation boon for a state like Ohio. At Sherwin-Williams, which makes paint made with soybean oil, Brown and Vilsack outlined how a new initiative to create jobs through increased biobased procurement and promotion could mean new manufacturing and agricultural jobs in Ohio.
“Agriculture remains Ohio’s number one industry—and manufacturing is one of our state’s most important industries. Partnering these two industries could be a boon for our state, and companies like Sherwin-Williams are leading the way,” Brown said. “Ohio already has what it takes to lead the nation in this emerging field: a skilled workforce, strong agricultural sector, and culture of manufacturing and innovation. We are home to nearly 150 companies that use agricultural crops to make new products ranging from natural cleaners to biobased paint and soy ink and toner. These companies create jobs—and new markets for our farmers and our manufacturers.
“USDA’s initiative to significantly expand the federal procurement of biobased products will give Ohio’s small towns and agricultural communities new opportunities to create jobs and promote economic growth though the biobased industry,” Brown continued. “And to complement this federal initiative, I’ve introduced new legislation to help our farmers and manufacturers do even more to meet our economic, environmental, and energy needs with the ‘Grow it Here, Make it Here’ Act. Biobased products are good for our environment—and our economy.”
Biobased products are composed wholly or significantly of biological ingredients—waste streams and renewable plant, animal, marine, or forestry materials. From natural pet foods and biobased paint, to soy ink and toner, these companies are creating jobs in Ohio’s small towns and rural communities, and generating a link between agriculture and manufacturing. President Obama recently released a new presidential memorandum to create jobs through significantly increased procurement of biobased products by the federal government.
Brown also recently announced the “Grow it Here, Make it Here” initiative to boost the biobased products industry to expand markets and create jobs in Ohio. Brown’s initiative would increase access to capital for biobased manufacturers, improve marketing of biobased products, and further the commercialization of new agricultural innovations. Ohio has an emerging biobased-manufacturing industry, with nearly 130 companies in Ohio already producing biobased products, and has the potential to lead the nation in the creation of new biobased products.
Brown’s bill consists of three parts:
- Strengthens the “Biopreferred Program,” which certifies and labels products so consumers can choose to purchase goods made of agriculture materials, and provides a preference for these products for government purchases. USDA’s Biopreferred Program offers over 8,900 biobased products, including products made by 130 Ohio companies.
- Spurs the commercialization of new agricultural innovations by streamlining and focusing resources to help new biobased projects move from the development to the commercialization phase. Your initiative focuses the USDA’s Biomass Research and Development Initiative on the commercialization of biobased products—bridging this gap to help accelerate the biobased industry.
- Increases access to capital for bio-based manufacturers by expanding the USDA’s Biorefinery Loan Guarantee Program, so biobased manufacturers have access to loans to help finance new operations or expand existing ones.
Last year, Sherwin-Williams was awarded the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award. The award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, (EPA) on behalf of the White House, recognizes Sherwin-Williams’ innovative new paint formulation, which utilizes soybean oil and recycled plastic bottles (PET) in the substantial reduction of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC). In manufacturing the new paint formula, Sherwin-Williams has used 320,000 pounds of soybean oil, 250,000 pounds of PET, and eliminated 1,000 barrels of oil.
In September 2011, Brown held a roundtable with business leaders, students, and farmers at the Ohio State University— as part of his “Grown in Ohio” Listening Tour—to discuss the potential of Ohio’s biobased industry. In July 2010, Brown invited Denny Hall, a sixth-generation farmer from Union County and the assistant director of the Ohio BioProducts Innovation Center (OBIC) to testify before the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry at a hearing to examine how biobased manufacturing can create jobs in rural Ohio Brown has held more than 200 roundtables throughout the state, and is the first Ohioan to serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee in more than 40 years and the first Ohioan ever to serve simultaneously on the Senate Appropriations Agriculture Subcommittee.