4 minutes with… Susan Seagren, Director, AMCREF Community Capital

2516e4fTell us about your company and it’s role in the Advanced Bioeconomy.

AMCREF invests in projects and business located in the Southern U.S. that generate high quality jobs and provide environmental benefits. We provide low cost capital via a federal program called New Markets Tax Credits (NMTCs) to increase private investment in low income communities, particularly in rural areas.

Tell us about your role and what you are focused on in the next 12 months.

AMCREF was recently awarded $75MM of NMTC allocation to invest in innovative projects which fit our mission. My role is to source, underwrite and close investments in high quality projects in low income areas. We strongly believe biomass-based business are an excellent way to provide economic stimulation and diversification within the rural South. Biomass and agricultural waste are abundant resources in this region.

To date we have provided low cost capital to numerous biomass-based projects, many of which have been highlighted on Biofuels Digest. These include manufacturers of innovative bioplastics and biochemicals or companies turning various types of agricultural waste into innovate new products (fertilizers, food additives, biofuels, etc).

What do you feel are the most important milestones the industry must achieve in the next 5 years?  

To most laypeople, the bioeconomy industry is a mystery. Most people do not realize that many plastics and common chemicals are derived from petroleum but could potentially be derived from biomass – not in the distant future but now. When I explain this to friends / family, they’re really enthusiastic and have increased interest and support.

If you could snap your fingers and change one thing about the Advanced Bioeconomy, what would you change? 

When most people think of the bioeconomy, they think of sugar or corn based ethanol and aren’t very supportive. They don’t realize how far the industry has come and the current /near term potential. That it’s not just science fiction. We need a couple of large scale, highly profitable leaders to increase this awareness and investor confidence.

Of all the reasons that influenced you to join the Advanced Bioeconomy industry, what single reason stands out for you as still being compelling and important to you?  

Replacing a finite product / resource with a renewable product / resource. It makes economic and environmental sense.

Where are you from? 

Colorado to San Francisco to New Orleans. All great places to live.

What was your undergraduate major in college, and where did you attend? Why did you choose that school and that pathway?

Finance, University of Colorado. I’m from Colorado and it was a great school at a great (in-state) price. Excellent all around college experience. I chose finance because I liked math but was told by my dad and sister (both engineers) that I was too social to be an engineer.

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