It's not a crystal ball or a guarantee of success, but a new modeling tool from Iowa State University just might be the best way yet to predict whether a new ethanol plant is likely to succeed or fail BEFORE you invest money in it.

The university's Agricultural Marketing Resource Center (AgMRC) developed and refined the online ethanol pre-feasibility model in cooperation with Business Advisory Services, a management company affiliated with the financial institution Co-Bank. The online exercise looks at variables such as ethanol market conditions, grain supply and prices, transportation choices, environmental issues, energy costs, federal and state incentives and funding alternatives. Log on and register for free at www.teambas.com/isu/src/isutop.php.