by Jessica Sexe, Public Relations Manager
More hand sanitizer will soon be available to individuals working on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic in and around Sioux Falls thanks to a local partnership. POET is creating a new sanitizer product and has partnered with Senproco Inc. for bottling services and with the City of Sioux Falls and South Dakota Health Care Coalition for distribution to frontline workers. This effort is a key first step by POET to manufacture and distribute hand sanitizer, which recently has been in limited supply due to increased demand.
POET Biorefiningâ€”Chancellor recently made changes to its distillation operations to combine the all-natural agriculture-based alcohol traditionally used to create ethanol to fuel vehicles to manufacture hand sanitizer.Â
"Frontline workers are facing risks every day to keep our communities safe from COVID-19, and we all need to do our part. At POET, we saw an opportunity to help our community while living our mission – to be good stewards of the earth by converting renewable resources to valuable goods – and created an all-natural ethanol-based sanitizer product. Bio-based products, like the sanitizer we're donating today, are a safe, affordable solution for our community's everyday needs from fuel for our cars to sanitizer for our families" said POET Founder and CEO Jeff Broin.
When it became clear how severe the COVID-19 impacts would be on our city and state, POET convened an internal working group to identify how the company could use its resources to help in this critical time of need.Â
To achieve this, POET engineers created a new distillation process for corn, which results in a purer alcohol. The effort required the biorefinery to pivot its manufacturing process in order to refine the alcohol to meet the standards for use in sanitizer.
Once the product was produced, it wasn't hard for POET to identify individuals and organizations in the community in need of the sanitizer. After an initial donation to Pioneer Health in Chancellor, POET partnered with the City of Sioux Falls and the South Dakota Health Care Coalition to determine the greatest need and oversee distribution of the donated product.
"This is another reminder of the great partnerships that we have in South Dakota. POET saw a need and became innovative to protect health care workers, EMS, fire, law and critical infrastructure personnel. This donation will also protect many of the community's most vulnerable citizens who reside in long term care centers within Lincoln, Minnehaha and McCook counties," said Lynn DeYoung, Executive Director, South Dakota Health Care Coalition.
The South Dakota Health Care Coalition will distribute the hand sanitizer to the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office, Tea Police, Lennox Police, Canton Ambulance, Lennox Ambulance, Hudson Ambulance, Tea Fire Department, Harrisburg Fire Department, Worthing Fire Department, Salem Ambulance, Bridgewater Ambulance, Canistota Clinic, Canistota Nursing Home and the Salem Nursing Home.
POET also donated 220 gallons of hand sanitizer to the City of Sioux Falls.
"A great strength of the American economy is its ability to adapt. I am grateful POET has shifted production to much needed hand sanitizer for first responders, including Sioux Falls police, fire rescue and EMS personnel. Sioux Falls is fortunate to have a great community partner and corporate citizen like POET headquartered here," said Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken.
In total, POET has donated over 300 gallons to frontline workers in and around Sioux Falls. POET is committed to using its resources and continuing to find ways to use agriculture, biofuels and bio-based products to help fight COVID-19.