Congresswoman Susan W. Brooks

Representing the 5th District of Indiana
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Rep. Brooks visits Italpollina, Anderson University

Aug 27, 2019
In The News

ANDERSON – The brown liquid sloshed back and forth in the jar as Luca Bonini, CEO of Italpollina, handed it to U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks for her inspection as he explained a brewing process similar to that for soy sauce or beer.

“It looks like balsamic vinegar,” she observed.

The brown liquid, developed in the laboratory where the 5th District congresswoman stood in a hard hat, was a vegetable protein-based biostimulant, the primary product manufactured in the $10 million plant just west of Purdue Polytechnic. Bonini said the company also has plans to develop powdered and granulated versions.

Brooks’ tour of the 70,000-square-foot facility that opened last October and employs 28 people was part of a visit she made to the region Tuesday during her recess from the nation’s capital. The visits help the congresswoman expand her portfolio of knowledge about the people and entities she serves.

The Italpollina plant tour was one stop in a whirlwind of events that included a tour of the Situation Room used by national security, cybersecurity and political science students at Anderson University. She also met one-on-one with residents in a Connect with a Congresswoman event at the Anderson Impact Center.

As Brooks arrived in the sleek lobby of Italpollina with its modern Italian design, Bonini pointed through the door to a field across the street that is expected to be transformed into a research and design center that will generate new products and technology.

“You need to stay on the top of development if you want to stay at the front of the wave,” Bonini told her.

Standing in the entry to the lab, however, Italpollina’s lead scientist Helene Reynaud explained the company does not patent its products because that would reveal too much to competitors.

But Brooks was interested in more than biostimulants as she was escorted through the facility by the small entourage that included her own staff, Bonini’s wife Sara Arisi and Jon Leman, commercial vice president for North America. She wanted to know about the company’s global accessibility through Indianapolis International Airport; whether Bonini and Italpollina had made connections with other Indiana agribusinesses, including Beck’s Hybrids and Reynolds Farm Equipment, both in Atlanta, and the effect of tariffs imposed by President Donald J. Trump on China.

Bonini said the Anderson plant was designed to make products specifically for the U.S. market.

Leman, however, said Italpollina supported the tariffs as a way of balancing imports and exports.

“We support President Trump to toe the line and bring it back in. It’s been unbalanced for too long,” he said.

Leman, an Indiana native who was working in Washington State, told Brooks the company had considered building its plant in Texas or North Carolina.

“I was rooting for Indiana because it was coming back home to me,” he said.