The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) is rounding out its 2023 petroleum marketer trade show season at the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) show, Oct. 3-6 in Atlanta, Georgia.

The event is the world's largest annual gathering of convenience and fuel marketing professionals. Earlier this year, ACE traveled to other trade shows, including the Western Petroleum Marketers Association (WPMA) in Las Vegas, Midwest Petroleum and Convenience Tradeshow (M-PACT) in Indianapolis, Pacific Fuels and Convenience Summit (pfcs) in San Diego, and others.

ACE says its presence at these shows can provide answers to prospective higher-blend ethanol marketers' questions about infrastructure compatibility, best practices for marketing E15 and E85, and USDA’s Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP) and its application process.

After the latest slate of funding designated for USDA’s HBIIP under the Inflation Reduction Act was announced, ACE updated its retailer-focused website to direct prospective E15 and flex fuels retailers to information about applying for and obtaining part of the $90 million in HBIIP grants now offered each calendar quarter for five quarters beginning July 1, 2023 and ending September 30, 2024.

“Our market development approach and flex fuel forward campaigns have always put the retailer voice first. Marketers want to hear from other station owners who have already ‘been there and done that,’” said Ron Lamberty, ACE chief marketing officer (CMO). “We’ve been helping retailers apply for and receive grants since HBIIP’s inception and we continue to promote the funding through our retailer website and paid media as the program evolves. Working directly with HBIIP applicants also provides experiences we share with USDA following each application period, in an effort to reduce challenges for marketers and increase their participation in future rounds.”

USDA’s HBIIP manager Jeff Carpenter has been a frequent visitor at the ACE trade show booths, giving retailers opportunities to meet one-to-one with the person who runs the program for USDA, and giving Carpenter more information on retailer utilization of the program straight from the people who have used it, or who have decided not to.

Accompanying the website updates, ACE began a new round of advertisements in c-store magazines, online publications and fuel industry websites to direct traffic to the site, targeted at station owners and operators who may consider adding higher ethanol blends.

The ads include messaging about the HBIIP funding along with ongoing ads pointing out profit potential and likelihood equipment is already compatible with E15.

ACE continues to adjust its ad campaign at the beginning and end of each upcoming application period, letting retailers know if they didn’t make the first deadline, another application window is starting, and then reminding them the deadline is near toward the end of each quarter.

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