HM3 lands USDA grant, plans Prineville biomass plant
By Christina Williams
Editor, Sustainable Business Oregon
HM3's process turns biomass into clean-burning briquettes that can be substituted for coal.
HM3 Energy was approved to receive $500,000, the second phase of a grant program through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The company will use the money to finish its Troutdale-based demonstration plant while it raises about $10 million to build a commercial plant in Prineville.
HM3, which has developed a process for turning biomass into cleaner-burning briquettes of a coal substitute for use in coal-fired power plants, will raise roughly half the money for the commercial plant through the federal government's EB-5 Program, which recruits Chinese investors in exchange for green card status.
Hiroshi Morihara said the program stipulates that EB-5 investments go toward a project in a distressed economy, in this case Prineville, that will create at least 10 direct or indirect jobs for each $500,000 invested.
Given those restrictions — the commercial plant is expected to create 126 direct and indirect jobs — Morihara said he expects HM3 to easily qualify for a $6 million investment through the program.
The individual Chinese investors will be recruited through American United Development Group, a Chinese company with offices in Vancouver, British Columbia, and Los Angeles.
The balance of the funds needed for the commercial plant is expected to come from traditional venture capital sources.
HM3 also got a boost toward that end by being selected among the semifinalists for The Cleantech Open investment competition.
"Through that program we'll get training from VCs as to how to present your business," Morihara said.
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