Reynolds - Homegrown Tools

Reynolds, IN

Updated: 2022

A small town with 550 people and 150,000 hogs turns an agricultural waste product into an economic asset. By converting waste from hog farming into a local energy supply, Reynolds is working to become the first energy self-sufficient community in America.

Median Household Income2020$56,250
Poverty Rate 20202.5%
Proximity to Urban Center 80 miles to Indianapolis, Ind.
Proximity to Interstate Highway 15 miles
Case Study Time Frame 2005-2007
Municipal Budget FY2022271,700
Data Source: US Census, American Community Survey
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Reynolds has branded itself BioTown, U.S.A., and it pursuing a strategy of becoming energy self-sufficient. The BioTown project represents a bold approach to develop local renewable energy production, create a cleaner environment, find new solutions to municipal and animal waste issues and develop new markets, all at the same time. The objective of the BioTown project is the conversion of Reynolds from a reliance on fossil fuels to biomass-based fuels. Local and state organizers hope to establish a model that promotes energy security, rural development, pro table agriculture and a green, thriving natural resource environment.


What are the lessons learned from this story?


Green innovation is an economic development strategy. In Reynolds, taking the opportunity to be on the front-end of an innovative green strategy has jump-started economic development. “Our town meetings went from talking about the neighbor’s dog in your yard to talking about million-dollar decisions about what we’re building,” said Van Voorst, the town council president. Investments by Good Oil (to upgrade the local service station) and Rose Energy Discovery (to develop bioenergy conversion technology) will eventually lead to more direct economic development benefits such as new jobs and new businesses. These initial investments also demonstrate the tremendous economic impact that green innovation can have in small town America.


Biomass waste has a huge potential to create energy. Residents of Reynolds were shocked to learn that waste products from their community had the potential to produce 74 times the power needed to fuel their town. More widespread recognition of the latent energy in traditional biomass waste products has the potential to drive innovation in rural agricultural regions.


Biomass fuel production can reduce the load on municipal wastewater infrastructure. Reynolds has discovered that its effort to convert various biomass waste products into energy products will greatly reduce its need for higher load wastewater infrastructure. In fact, three neighboring municipalities are planning to send their municipal waste to the bioenergy plant as an alternative to upgrading their own municipal wastewater infrastructure. The potential for lowering sewer bills was a major selling point in terms of invigorating local interest in the BioTown project.