Low-cost natural gas continues to lure petrochemical and other manufacturing companies to the lower Mississippi River corridor, producing an ongoing string of new plant announcements in south Louisiana. Recently, Yuhuang Chemical Inc., said it will build a $1.85 billion methanol complex in St. James Parish. The first big direct investment in Louisiana by a mainland Chinese company, the plant could employ 400 people as it builds to full capacity.
The following are snapshots of other business expansions and initiatives making news around the state.
Tech firm likes Cajun Country
LAFAYETTE – Hiring is under way for the first of some 350 new jobs expected to result from the startup of a local software development enterprise by Silicon Valley-based Enquero. The company announced in July it would open its first Agile Delivery Center, dedicated to high-performance software and services, in Lafayette. The company will occupy about 2,000 square feet of space it is leasing from the Lafayette Economic Development Authority, and will collaborate with the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and South Louisiana Community College to help develop work force training programs appropriate for the center. Jobs at the center will come on line over the next three years as its activities expand.
Package company delivers jobs
COVINGTON – St. Tammany Parish officials announced recently that Federal Express will built a distribution center that could bring up to 800 jobs to Northpointe Business Park west of Covington. The 175,000-square-foot center , which state and local economic development representatives have been courting for a year, will take about 15 months to complete, according to local reports. In addition to warehousing and truck-loading facilities, the center will include about 7,500 feet of office space.
Progress on three wheels
SHREVEPORT – As Elio Motors inches closer to starting the manufacture of its long-awaited three-wheel vehicle in a former General Motors assembly plant, the company says it plans to sell off unneeded machines still housed in the facility. The Shreveport Times recently reported that the company had evaluated all the equipment remaining in the plant and is contracting with local firms to help in the disposition of surplus assets. The company expects to eventually employ 1,500 people in Shreveport to produce the Elio, a prototype of which is on a nationwide introductory tour aimed at building orders for the vehicles in advance of the plant’s startup.
Booster shot for bioscience
NEW ORLEANS – A local business group announced plans to take charge of efforts to spur the buildup of a local biomedical industry. The New Orleans Business Alliance will attempt to take over where the New Orleans BioDistrict left off earlier this year when it lost its CEO, who was its only employee. The mission of the downtown district is to attract and link together businesses that will participate in wide-ranging activities in the medical hub, which includes Tulane University Medical School, the interim LSU Hospital, the University Medical Center that’s under construction in the area, and the new Veterans Administration hospital, also under way. The manager of the new University Medical Center, LCMC Health, made a $100,000 contribution to the business alliance to support the effort.
Doors, windows and jobs
BATON ROUGE – A maker of tempered and insulated glass for residential and commercial use plans a new manufacturing plant that will bring about 50 jobs to Baton Rouge. Tucson, Ariz.-based Glaz-Tech Industries bought a 25,000-square-foot building on Dual Street and will add 15,000 feet of additional space to house the plant, where the company will make windows, doors and specialty glass products. The company, which has seven other plants around the country, cited construction growth in the region as a reason it chose the Baton Rouge location.
Gas importer to reverse direction
HACKBERRY – The natural gas liquefication and export terminal called Cameron LNG has received the final authorization it needs to begin shipping natural gas around the world. The Energy Department granted the Lake Charles area project the last necessary licenses, and the project’s owner, Sempra Energy, now can begin construction on its $10 billion investment to add exporting capabilities to an existing import terminal. Once completed, the facility will be capable of exporting as much as 1.7 billion cubic feet of gas daily to Taiwan, Japan and other countries that do not have free-trade agreements with the United States.