South Dakota State University awarded POET CEO Jeff Broin an honorary doctorate of public service during their spring commencement ceremony May 6, 2017.
The honorary degree is “the highest honor conferred by the Board of Regents and University and is reserved for only those candidates whose extraordinary accomplishments have benefitted society,” according to SDSU’s guidelines for granting honorary degrees.
As CEO of POET, Jeff Broin built the company from a small 1 million gallon-per-year operation into the largest biofuels producer in the world, with 1.8 billion gallons of annual fuel production and 10 billion pounds of high-protein animal feed, among other products.
Nationally, POET adds approximately $5.3 billion to the gross domestic product and generates $13.5 billion in sales for US businesses annually. In South Dakota, POET adds $636.3 million to the state GDP and $384.4 million to household earnings. The 30-year-old company has a network of 27 production facilities in seven staes: Iowa, South Dakota, Indiana, Minnesota, Ohio, Missouri and Michigan. POET, through its joint venture with DSM, also operates a commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant in Emmetsburg, Iowa.
“Thirty years ago, I made a decision to move to Scotland, S.D., a place I had never been, and become general manager of a nearly bankrupt ethanol plant. My dad put his farm on the line for this project, and I knew failure wasn’t an option,” Broin said. “Our will, determination and faith were tested daily, but it was those values that helped get POET to where it is today. I am incredibly humbled and honored by this recognition and will forever treasure this moment.”
“Mr. Broin epitomizes SDSU’s role to prepare people to innovate, to do things in new ways that add real value to the lives and wellbeing of our communities,” said Dr. Daniel Scholl, Interim Dean of the SDSU College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences. “It is a privilege for SDSU to recognize Jeff’s contributions by this honorary doctorate degree.”
Broin is a Kenyon, Minn., native.