BATON ROUGE (The Center Square) – Governor John Bel Edwards is touting hundreds of millions of dollars in planned business investment as proof that Louisiana’s workforce and tax incentives are attracting growing industries to the state of Pelican.
Edwards this week highlighted two recent investments that are expected to translate into more than 1,000 jobs in the coming years, both of which tie into the governor’s focus on climate change.
Origin Materials, “a carbon negative materials company,” plans to invest at least $750 million to build a 150-acre biomass manufacturing plant in Ascension Parish that will turn wood waste into used polyethylene terephthalate in packaging, textiles, clothing and other applications. The planned plant at Geismar is also expected to produce hydrothermal carbon for fuel pellets.
The new facility will create 200 new direct jobs at an annual salary of over $90,000, with benefits, as well as 857 indirect jobs in the Capital Region. The company plans to begin construction by mid-2023 and be operational by mid-2025, according to a statement from Edwards.
“Their unique process of developing PET products from renewable wood fibers is another example of how the global shift to sustainability can be a catalyst for economic investment and job creation in our state.” , Edwards said. “The company’s carbon negative mission aligns with our climate action plan’s approach to limiting the severity of climate change while maintaining economic competitiveness in a low-carbon future.
Origin Materials co-CEO John Bissell said the new facility will help meet strong demand for the company’s products, expanding from two existing locations in California and Ontario, Canada. He highlighted the support of state and local business development officials and state manpower and resources for the company’s decision to locate in Louisiana.
“The demand for ‘net zero’ materials is extremely strong, and we believe this plant will be instrumental in meeting the demand for our products in the United States and around the world,” Bissell said. “We are grateful for the partnership of Louisiana Economic Development, the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, and Ascension Parish for the support they provided in the site selection process. Local talent is world-class in refining, forestry and agronomy, commodity logistics and chemicals. The site is located along the Mississippi River with easy access to barges and railroads and abundant local wood residue feedstock. The incentive package offered for construction in the region is compelling and the local industrial cluster can provide access to hydrogen, ethylene, water treatment and more. »
The state incentive program included services from the LED FastStart workforce development program, a performance-based reward of $6 million over six years, and tax savings through Louisiana’s Quality Jobs and Industrial Tax Exemption Programs.
Edwards also pointed to a $176 million plan by Syrah Technologies to expand an existing graphite processing plant in Vidalia to power the electric vehicle industry. The expansion is expected to create 36 jobs with average annual salaries of $69,000 plus benefits, in addition to the 19 employees currently working at the facility. Louisiana Economic Development estimated that the project would also create 52 indirect jobs.
The plans will add 180,000 square feet of processing space to the existing 50,000 square foot facility, where Syrah Technologies will process natural graphite into active anode material (AAM) for lithium-ion batteries.
Construction of the expansion is expected to begin this spring and be completed by the middle of next year. Syrah Technologies is a subsidiary of Australian company Syrah Resources, which owns one of the world’s largest graphite mines in Mozambique. Vidalia’s expansion, which will enable annual production of 11,250 tons of AAM, comes about a year after the company announced a supply agreement with Tesla Inc. The company is using the same state incentives as Origin Materials.
“Today’s announcement by Syrah Technologies is another example of how Louisiana’s commitment to a cleaner energy future can strengthen our economy,” Edwards said. “This is just the beginning of Louisiana’s efforts to help automakers take advantage of our state’s unique logistical advantages to meet growing demand for electric cars and trucks.”
Syrah Resources CEO Shaun Verner cited the state’s focus on sustainability as a major factor in the planned expansion.
“It’s a confirmation of our vision to develop the first AAM facility in the United States and Louisiana,” Verner said. “Louisiana has all the right elements for the development of new technologies in the manufacturing sector, including a vision of sustainable development that aligns well with Syrah’s values. Vidalia is a large community with access to technology hubs and an excellent supply chain logistics option for this and potentially future expansion. »