BlueFire Renewables, a green energy company based in California, broke ground on an ethanol plant in Mississippi where it expects to distill 19 million gallons of ethanol each year from wood.

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With a population of nearly 4,000, Fulton, Miss., is just like any other small town in the United States. It is quaint, rural and boastful of its history. Located in Itawamba County, Fulton plays host to the always popular Sweet Tea Festival each year and a farmers' market every Friday afternoon in the summer. Like other communities, Fulton suffered during the Great Recession. At the end of 2010, the county's unemployment rate was more than 10 percent [source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics].

But things are looking up for Fulton, thanks to the biofuel industry. In 2010, BlueFire Renewables, a green energy company based in California, broke ground on an ethanol plant in town. The company expects to distill 19 million gallons of ethanol each year from wood. Officials anticipate 700 people will work building the plant, and another 70 will have high-paying jobs at the facility. To sate the plant's appetite for wood, the local forest industry is expected to create an additional 300 jobs [sources: Biofuels Journal and Childers]. Moreover, another company is building a biofuel plant in nearby Pontotoc County that will produce 10 million gallons of ethanol each year. That plant will create 130 additional jobs [source: Childers].

The biofuel industry, with its allure of clean, home-grown sustainable energy, has become an economic lifeline of sorts for Fulton and dozens of other communities, providing well-paying jobs for individuals and economic development for municipalities. In 2007, the ethanol industry alone created 240,000 jobs, and added $47.6 billion to the nation's gross domestic product [source: U.S. Department of Energy].

While analysts disagree on the number of jobs the biofuel industry will create, several studies say the U.S. economy could add more than 1 million jobs in the next two decades [source: U.S. Department of Energy]. Continue to the next page to read about more economic advantages of biofuel.