With new investments totaling more than $26 billion, Louisiana bagged more business development “wins” in 2013 than in any of the past six years, according to the state’s Economic Development Department.
Department Secretary Stephen Moret reported that projects launched last year eventually will produce about 27,000 jobs, including both direct employment and work generated by the projects in related businesses. Moret said 67 major projects, including new construction and expansions, were announced during 2013.
Here’s a look at a few of the more recent projects announced around the state.
Billion-dollar boom continues
The explosion of investment in Louisiana’s petrochemical industry received still more fire power in December when Atlanta-based Axiall Corp. announced it will build a $3 billion manufacturing complex in the state. The company has not yet finalized the site of its new construction, but it already operates plants in the Lake Charles and Plaquemine areas. Axiall’s managers said they expect to award an engineering and design contract for the project soon, and the new plant should begin operating in 2018, employing about 200 workers. The facility is one of the latest additions to a long list of petrochemical projects begun in Louisiana to the tune of more than $60 billion of investment.
Progress on three wheels
SHREVEPORT – A year after Elio Motors announced it would open a factory at a former General Motors plant here, the company is poised to begin a retrofitting of the assembly facility and could begin producing its new three-wheeled vehicles there early next year. The energy-efficient cars are expected to average 65 miles per gallon of gasoline and could sell for about $6,800. Company founder Paul Elio said the project is getting off the ground with help from the Caddo Parish Industrial Development Board, which recently purchased the former GM plant, making it available for new production. Elio raised about $7 million to advance the project, he said.
Giving global warming a chill
GEISMAR – Concerns about greenhouse gas emissions have helped spark development of a new auto-refrigerant manufacturing plant here. Honeywell said in December that it will build a new Geismar facility as part of a $300 million investment the company is making to boost production of a new refrigerant for automobiles. The product has a much lower potential than the currently used refrigerant to contribute to global warming, Honeywell said. Demand for the product is rising worldwide, sparked in part by new environmental regulations instituted by the U.S. and European governments. The Geismar plant could begin operating
Expansion sparks hiring in central Louisiana
PINEVILLE – Some 90 people soon will find new jobs in the local area as Crest Industries LLC completes an expansion of its headquarters. CEO Kenny Robison announced in January a $2 million investment to add a new office building to its existing complex to accommodate a growing staff. The family-owned business provides services to electric utility customers, commercial and industrial electrical contractors, and the forestry industry. The company currently employs about 560 people in the state.
Retail project under way
NEW ORLEANS – Construction has begun on a new $24 million retail center that’s being hailed as a boon to an underserved section of New Orleans. Magnolia Marketplace, in Central City, is a 100,000-square-foot project being developed by Covington-based Stirling Properties, LLC and JCH Development on land that was formerly part of a public housing complex. Tenants in the center, which will fully open in the spring of 2015, will include Ross Dress for Less, T.J. Maxx, Michaels, PetSmart and Raising Cane’s.
Company engineers an expansion
MADISONVILLE – A $5 million investment by Pelican Energy Consultants, LLC will fuel an expansion of the company’s Madisonville headquarters and lead to the addition of 195 new jobs within the next few years. Company CEO Kenny Bogle said the 9-year-old engineering company, which also has offices in Metairie and Houston, has found a niche with its consulting and project management services to the oil and gas industry. The company currently employs 158 people in Louisiana, and Bogle said the new jobs will pay average salaries of $90,000 per year.