Macon, Missouri (CNN) - President Barack Obama donned a hard hat and goggles Wednesday to tour an ethanol plant in Missouri, then touted biofuel production and other alternative energy sources to free the United States from dependence on foreign oil.
On the second day of his two-day swing through Iowa, Missouri and Illinois, Obama told workers at the POET Biorefining plant in Macon that their work creates a stronger economy for the nation and their own community.
The president noted that tough economic conditions in Midwestern states have made it harder for middle-class Americans to get by, and have caused young people to move away due to a lack of opportunity.
He said the success story at the POET plant proves "that doesn't have to be the case."
"Here at POET, I believe that you're doing more than just helping stake America's claim on our future," Obama said. "I'm here to make sure that communities like this one have a bright future of opportunity going forward."
The POET Biorefining plant in Macon produced its first ethanol in 2000, Obama noted.
Today, the plant purchases 16 million bushels of corn from 650 farmers in the region to produce 46 million gallons of ethanol, along with 140,000 tons of high protein animal feed sold to area farmers and 94,000 tons of carbon dioxide - C02 - that is sold to soft drink companies, food processors, water treatment facilities and others, according to information provided by the White House.
Later Wednesday, Obama will discuss Wall Street reform during an appearance in Quincy, Illinois.