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Philadelphia biofuels manufacturer takes third in Bloomberg Entrepreneur contest

Sewer greases are the scourge of city planners and sewage treatment workers in cities across the country. In a 2008 study from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, it was estimated that 50 percent of all San Francisco's sewer emergencies are caused by grease blockages and cost the city $3.5 million a year for cleanup. So, in 2009, the city by the bay employed a Philadelphia company to help them capture and refine this waste grease into fuel, thus proving the old adage that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

Founded in 2004, Black Gold Biofuels created a manufacturing system that cities and businesses could employ to manage their wastewater, filter valuable substances and refine them to create biodeisel. For cities like San Francisco, this system is a no-brainer, turning a multi-million dollar problem into a clean, green solution. And it won’t be just San Francisco’s treat for much longer. Earlier this month, Bloomberg BusinessWeek announced Black Gold as one of America’s Most Promising Social Entrepreneurs of 2010. As a relatively new company, Black Gold CEO Emily Bockian Landsburg believes the distinction will be instrumental as the company seeks expansion funding this fall.

“Investors are barraged with all sorts of deals and business opportunities,” she says. “So having companies that are pre-qualified through some sort of competition is a useful thing.”

The contest began on the hugely popular BusinessWeek blog, where the publication asked readers to vote on 25 national social ventures and their chances for long-term success. Nominated by angel investment group Investor Circle, Black Gold was chosen from thousands of entrants for the top 25 and made it into the final vote. With just over 13 percent of the vote, the company took third place behind New York’s Hello Rewind and the North Carolina-based Redwoods Group. But, according to Landsburg, it is an honor just to be nominated.

“There are a lot of startup companies here and there so this is a way to indicate to our client base that we have been vetted,” says Landsburg. “This adds a level of credibility to say that we are not a fly-by-night operation, we’re creating a valuable solution, we have a track record, we have a national reputation so this is something that will assist in opening up some doors for us and really get us over the credibility hurdle.”

Source: Emily Bockian Landsburg, Black Gold Biofuels
Writer: John Steele
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