Service and product providers across the ethanol industry have proved to be crucial in aiding businesses though the COVID-19 crisis. Christianson PLLP, an accounting and consulting firm, has been leading the way as information gatherers who utilize their impressive team and expertise to bring resources to businesses who have been hit hard by the economic impacts of the crisis.
As the ethanol industry faced a demand downturn, Christianson PLLP pivoted from its usual business model to providing ready-made resources to small business owners who were looking for both short- and long-term solutions.
“We learned quickly in the beginning of the crisis that people were craving information,” said Melissa Knott, Christianson’s Marketing Manager. “With so much uncertainty, we took our role of information gathering and advocating to a new level so that we could meet the needs of our clients as well as business owners across the country.”
With this mission in mind, Christianson has been providing free webinars on a variety of topics, including COVID-19 stimulus packages such as the CARES Act, Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), and the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. These webinars are designed to help business owners obtain the resources that are available to them in finding short-term solutions that help them stay afloat. Given that the PPP alone has nearly fifty “frequently asked questions,” helping people understand these programs has proven to be a critical lifeline for many trying to make sure their operations comply.
“As the ag and renewable fuels industries struggle with lost demand markets and the COVID-19 pandemic, Christianson PLLP has looked for ways we can help our clients succeed by bringing expertise and information to the industry,” said John Christianson, Managing Partner of Christianson PLLP. “Our experts have presented multiple webinars for our clients and the public on how their employees and businesses can benefit from the provisions of the CARES Act. Presenting free webinars and volunteering our time to help develop policy are ways we work to make an impact.”
In addition to these COVID-19-related webinars, Christianson has also continued to focus on supporting the long-term concerns of professionals such as legacy planning and managing health savings accounts. While the public health crisis has put many plans on hold, important topics such as legacy planning are also time sensitive and Christianson’s webinars provide agricultural producers with the financial and emotional support they need to complete the process.
Through their channels, Christianson has offered multiple options and formats in order to meet the needs of their clients and the ethanol industry. Jamey Cline, Christianson PLLP’s Business Development Director, is a familiar face for many in the ethanol industry and has been working diligently to survey the needs of the industry and bring the information back to the team so that they can introduce new webinars and resources to assist the industry in moving forward.
“The ethanol industry is a big priority for us, and it was important that we continue to do whatever we can to give producers the resources they need to survive the crisis,” said Knott.
Because of their expertise in the ethanol industry, Argonne National Labs requested their assistance to help provide current industry efficiency data to update their GREET model, an analytical tool that simulates energy use and emissions output of vehicle and fuel combinations. Christianson PLLP volunteered their benchmarking analytics team to work with Argonne Labs to provide the most accurate information possible, setting the industry on a positive path forward. This update will pay off in the long-term as the ethanol industry continues to pursue a low-carbon future.
Christianson’s website has also been a crucial part of the information gathering process as they’ve been using it to house resources and information on different funding opportunities (outside of SBA loans) for businesses, nonprofit organizations, and the agriculture sector.
The lifelong learning culture, coupled with their purpose of “Helping People Succeed” at Christianson, has proven to be instrumental in keeping their team poised to assist the ethanol industry in moving through the pandemic. The team at Christianson has always been encouraged to pursue new learning opportunities to help them grow their skill sets so that they can better serve their team, their clients, and the industry. Over the years, they’ve also been active at the local level with members of their team having served in various leadership roles within over 40 service clubs and organizations in their communities. These activities accumulate to over 2000 hours per year dedicated to community service:
- Chamber (President and board-level)
- United Way
- Churches and religious organizations
- School Boards
- And many more
Outside of the pandemic, Christianson PLLP’s typical services include helping decision makers navigate tax and financial issues, as well as grant writing, consulting, and other important areas that allow companies to gain a competitive edge. New legislation that has been and potentially will be introduced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic will pose new opportunities and challenges for companies. As the ethanol industry and companies across the globe continue to navigate in a pandemic, and the eventual post-pandemic world, the expertise and generosity of companies like Christianson PLLP will remain a valuable asset to small businesses, ethanol plants, and businesses across the agriculture sector. You can trust that Christianson PLLP will keep everyone up-to-date.
This post is part of the Renewable Fuels Association’s ongoing #RFACommunityPartners series spotlighting individual member companies’ heroic responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.