We are presenting our asset mapping approach for examining a region’s potential for participating in the wood-based biofuels industry. Every region has its own unique set of tangible and intangible assets or resources that can be used in pursuit of economic development.
A community capitals framework is used to organize supply chain assets. Assets are collected in the following capital categories: natural (e.g., biomass feedstock), physical (road; rail networks; existing, idle, decommissioned mill sites), civic (workforce, education, collaboratives), financial (cost of doing business, loans and grant opportunities) and policy (laws and landownership).
Asset development in regions can be traced to the investment of existing assets in strategies and projects that build additional assets across the region. When those resources or assets are invested to create new resources, they become capital. For example, a region may possess a large volume of unutilized residuals from saw log harvests. In its current form, this material may be a liability because it poses a risk for wildfires. When assessing potential development of a biofuels or bioenergy industry, this material may be viewed as an asset to the industry. But when invested in becoming feedstock for the new products and industries, this biomass now becomes a capital. This conceptual approach can be applied to a diverse set of assets such as education programs, investment opportunities, skilled workforce, existing infrastructure, and so on.
Our presentation highlights work conducted through the Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance (NARA) on wood-based biofuels supply chains in the Western Montana Corridor, which includes northeast Washington, northern Idaho and western Montana.