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Fueling Growth

A billion-dollar opportunity inspired some resourceful brothers to find a funding shortcut.

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This story appears in the November 2005 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Brothers Tom and Neil Koehler got into the renewable energy business long before being green was cool. Now their company, Pacific Ethanol, is red-hot. When recent changes in California law created an instant billion-gallon demand for ethanol, the brothers immediately drew up plans for a network of new ethanol production plants.

Their first plan to raise the $50 million needed for each plant was an IPO, but that would have taken too long. So in March, Pacific Ethanol purchased a defunct public company shell, allowing the Koehlers to sell over $21 million in stock to public investors--not bad for a 24-person company.

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