If there’s one thing CJ Evans knows, it’s how to facilitate real change, something he’s honed over his career as a registered Capitol Hill lobbyist since 1979, which he now brings, among other talents, to his role as managing director at his holding company, American Diversified Enterprises (ADE). CJ is also the co-founder of the Alternative Fuels & Chemicals Coalition (AFCC) which, since 2019, has grown into the second-largest bioeconomy lobbying group in the U.S., with over 150 member companies generating more than $350 billion in annual revenues and employing 600,000 people.
ADE, which includes nine business groups and 10 companies, has been at the forefront of overcoming obstacles and nurturing innovation since 2004. To date, it has served more than 250 clients. With the motto “Helping innovators advance,” its companies serve as “enablers,” providing consulting services to project developers who need backing to launch world-changing advances.
ADE has been featured as a top 10 energy consulting firm in Energy Business Review. It also has a partner page on the Innovation News Network (INN) website and a just-released eBook, You, Me, Life on the Planet, and the Climate Crisis.
CJ was gracious enough to share more about ADE’s incredible work in bringing innovative projects to fruition.
Tell us about ADE’s history, and how it became what it is today.
ADE started about 20 years ago as a sole proprietorship. I was originally hired as a lobbyist for a public company to work on the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which created a loan guarantee and several grant programs, and the 2008 Farm Bill. I then helped the company apply for the funding programs that had been created, which led to awards from three of these programs. That’s when I realized that even well-resourced, smart companies had difficulties in applying for grants, so I began ADE to help companies pursue federal financing and built a firm with subject matter experts to add to each company’s capabilities to increase their chances of securing funding.
What inspired your focus on the climate crisis?
The U.S. already has the technology to mitigate the climate crisis’s worst effects. The problem is that it takes 10-15 years to develop and deploy it, and then it only accounts for a sliver of market penetration. There is no federal funding – only hard-to-find private funding – for the pre-construction steps that must be completed before a company can apply for a loan guarantee or construction financing. This gap not only delays projects but kills projects that cannot find the money to advance. So ADE is working to fill this gap to reduce the time it takes to get from proof of concept to commercialization.
How does your experience as a lobbyist inform what you do with ADE?
I’ve been a lobbyist for over 40 years and been involved in creating legislation to expand federal funding and prevent the programs that fund innovations from being eliminated. I drafted legislation in 2020 that AFCC moved through Congress, which has revitalized the Department of Energy’s Title 17 Innovative Technologies Loan Guarantee program, moving it from advancing only one project between 2014 and 2021, to having more than 140 applications under consideration requesting $120 billion in loans with multiple projects moving to deployment.
Many great firms can help companies prepare grant applications, but very few have had a hand in creating the legislation and maintain the agency relationships that provide an insider’s view of the implementation these programs.
You’re also leading a handful of other innovative efforts. Will you share a few of these with us?
Yes, we’re pursuing four other initiatives, three of which relate to the climate crisis, and one of which is media-oriented. We’re able to maintain and even increase funding for programs benefiting the bioeconomy through AFCC. I also started a foundation to honor my late wife, who was a phenomenal fundraiser and mentor, to carry on her legacy of helping those in need.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
It’s phenomenally rewarding to see how many smart, creative, dedicated people are working on new technologies and solutions to world problems. It’s gratifying that ADE is here to help them. As companies address climate problems, they’re bringing jobs, economic development, and tax revenues to local communities, so they benefit the world in multiple ways. And because we work with so many companies, we can spot synergies and make connections to enhance the projects they deploy.
Managing Director — American Diversified Enterprises
Innovation Network News Partner Page: https://www.innovationnewsnetwork.com/partner/american-diversified-enterprises-nurturing-innovation-project-support/
Breakthrough News: https://www.americandiversified.energy/breakthrough-news