Company converts UP wood, looking to expand at Air Force base

GWINN — Biogenic Reagents is all about being environmentally friendly. The company, based out of Minneapolis, Minnesota, takes wood that’s produced in the U.P. and converts it in a futuristic like fashion.

“We heat up wood, we drive off the compounds and we drive off the water to a very pure form of carbon,” said James Mennell, the CEO of Biogenic Reagents. “We take that carbon and poke holes in it with gasses so it becomes a very porous sponge. That’s used to clean chemicals out of water and purify food.”

Biogenic Reagents was founded in 2011. A couple years into their business venture, the company wanted to expand its operation. That’s when they contacted the Lake Superior Community Partnership.

“Building up and working with companies at the base is critical to the success of our area,” said LSCP CEO Amy Clickner. “What we helped them to was make a lot of connections. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation was part of the key process in getting their doors open in a timely fashion.”

“The partnership (LSCP) in particular has helped us with every aspect of our business,” said Mennell. “From the first days when we were looking to get governmental approvals that we needed to securing additional funding from the state, literally everything they do feels like they’re cheerleading and supporting our business.”

Biogenic Reagents opened its first flagship production facility in 2013. The company put $50 million into the business that employs 41 people full–time. Mennell says that Biogenic Reagents is looking to further its operation at the former Air Force Base.

“We’d love to add additional positions up here,” said Mennell. “This has been a great community to operate a facility. I think the partnership (LSCP) has done such a good job of doing what it’s intended to do, which is helping businesses.”

“Whether it’s working with them on talent enhancement, their next expansion, or capital infusion, those are the things that we’re here do to at Jim’s beck and call,” said Clickner. “We want him to continue to succeed and grow here.”