Financial Alert Louisiana with refinery photo

Four recently announced projects would bring a total of $794 million in new construction work to the state in both the public and private sectors — and could continue to jumpstart the recent success of the state’s Louisiana Economic Development program.

Releases note that the program “attracted 58 new economic development projects representing over 11,600 new jobs [and] 8,600 retained jobs” during 2020, providing a strong foundation for development to be done in the coming years.

One of the major focuses of the Louisiana Economic Development initiative is support for contractors on payment security — especially when assisting smaller contractors in getting involved with major projects and receiving timely payment for their work.

Claiming that “The inability to secure sufficient bonding capacity has presented a challenge for new and smaller companies in the construction industry,” the initiative has additionally set up programs that assist “a variety of disadvantaged businesses, including minority and woman-owned businesses, veteran-owned businesses and other small businesses in obtaining bid, payment and performance bonds required for construction opportunities throughout Louisiana.”

A $70 million renewable fuel plant in Iberia Parish could generate up to 100 new construction jobs

Such programs could aid contractors significantly on a number of recently-announced projects sponsored by the state.

A June 28, 2021, release from Governor Edwards noted that Delta Biofuel was “evaluating” Iberia Parish as the new location for a $70 million renewable fuel production facility.

According to the release, “The planned production facility would produce biomass fuel pellets made from residual sugarcane fiber, known as bagasse.”

The joint statement from Governor Edwards and Delta Biofuel CEO Philip Keating noted that the facility’s peak construction would generate “up to 100 construction jobs,” as well as creating 126 direct jobs and 149 indirect jobs when operational.

“Renewable energy is a key component in reaching environmental protection targets, and Louisiana looks forward to welcoming the latest renewable fuel investment, Delta Biofuel,” said Governor Edwards.

“Continued growth in the renewable fuels and renewable energy sectors is prime economic development, as Delta Biofuel’s project would result in 275 new jobs in Acadiana. On behalf of the people of Louisiana, we look forward to this fantastic new project coming to our state.”

“Our bagasse pellet manufacturing plant will provide a sustainable, long-term solution for the sugar mills by utilizing all excess bagasse produced each harvest,” Keating said. “We see Louisiana and its sugar industry as a terrific and reliable source of biomass for alternative fuel production.”

Success with this plant may even signal more future expansion for the company, according to Keating.

“We have been able to collaborate with our partner sugar mills to produce a solution for their needs, while establishing a viable project that can deliver long-term economic impact for the region and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in electricity production,” Keating added. “Combine this with the fantastic industrial labor force and the support from the state, and we eventually expect to do even more beyond this initial project.”  

The project’s announcement was welcome news to leaders in Iberia Parish who are looking to expand 

“Iberia Parish is open for business,” Iberia Parish President M. Larry Richard said of the proposal. “We are always open to working with developers that wish to come to Iberia Parish. We are excited to hear of the developer’s possible investment and what it could bring to Iberia Parish and its citizens.”

Though unconfirmed, a $550 million renewable diesel project remains on the table for St. Bernard Parish

A June 24, 2021, announcement from Governor Edwards and PBF Chalmette Refinery Manager Steven Krynski noted that the refinery’s parent company, PBF Energy, was considering “the possible conversion of an idled refinery unit into a renewable diesel production complex” in St. Bernard Parish.

The potentially $550 million project would “retrofit a hydrocracker unit — out of operation since 2010 — with new technology to accommodate renewable diesel production” and “would include construction of a pretreatment unit that will allow Chalmette Refining to create non-fossil feedstocks from soybean oil, corn oil and other biogenically derived fats and oils.”

Much like with the Iberia Parish project, Governor Edwards claims that Louisiana is emphasising renewable and “environmentally friendly” energy.

“Louisiana continues to position itself as a leading state for environmentally friendly energy production,” Gov. Edwards said. “This innovative project at Chalmette Refining is right in line with the goals set out by the Climate Initiatives Task Force I created last year. With this major capital investment in a next-generation energy source and the creation of quality manufacturing jobs along the way, Louisiana would benefit from this project on many levels.”

“The Chalmette Refining facility has been a mainstay of our local economy for more than a century,” added St. Bernard Parish President Guy McInnis, emphasising the importance of retaining the facility’s workforce.

“This important project would position the refinery for success in the years to come as it adapts to the new demands of our energy future. Chalmette Refining is the parish’s top taxpayer and largest private employer, and support for this project will help to secure its future in St. Bernard Parish,” McInnis continued.

The statement from Governor Edwards and Krynski noted that the project’s development would support 200 construction jobs. In addition, the facility would create 20 new direct jobs and 110 indirect jobs, and would result in the refinery retaining 516 existing jobs.

$136 million in new FEMA Hazard Mitigation funds will bring significant construction spending to Louisiana parishes

Louisiana was heavily impacted by hurricanes in 2020, and a June 17, 2021, announcement by Governor Edwards reaffirmed that the state is going to continue working on construction to repair damages caused by the storms and prevent future damage — the press release noted that $136 million dollars in FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funding was just allocated for 25 Louisiana parishes impacted by Hurricanes Laura and Delta in 2020.

“We look forward to working with our local partners and FEMA on projects that will help protect the citizens of Louisiana,” said Governor Edwards. “As communities continue the hard work on recovery, this funding can be another helpful part of that process.”

According to the government, the regionally-focused projects are being approached with the intent to “reduce or eliminate long-term risk to life and property by lessening the impact of a disaster” — continuing to note that the projects are “dedicated to breaking the cycle of damage, reconstruction and repeat damage.”

As the release notes, there will be plenty of construction work necessary as part of the project, which now includes $176 million in total funding after a $40 million allocation was announced in November 2020.

“Examples of typical mitigation activities include elevation, reconstruction or acquisition of flood-prone structures and converting land to green space, localized drainage improvements, safe room construction, wind retrofit of structures and emergency power for critical facilities,” Governor Edwards specified.

“GOHSEP will work with each parish to develop a priority project list for this first installment and the remaining HMGP funding. Experts say one dollar spent in mitigation on average saves communities more than six dollars.”

Final phase of interstate repair in St. Tammany Parish funded by $38 million of new spending 

After what has already been a year of construction to widen a dangerous portion of Interstate 12 in western St. Tammany Parish, Governor Edwards recently allocated $38 million to complete the project’s final phase, bringing the new construction’s total cost to nearly $154 million.

According to Larry Sharp, district engineer administrator with the state Department of Transportation and Development, the project is anticipated to be completed in late 2022.

Sharp added that the first phase — a $55 million project to add a lane in each direction to a 3.26-mile section stretching between U.S. 190 and La. 59 — is now 62% complete.

Phase 2 — which adds additional lanes to three miles stretching from La. 21 to U.S. 190, as well as widening the area’s Tchefuncte River bridge — is the most significant, costing $60 million. Sharp noted that work on phase 2 was “about 15% complete.”

The construction helps deal with the significant safety issues the area of the interstate has dealt with in recent years. According to an aide for US Representative Steve Scalise, the stretch of Interstate 12 that runs between La. 21 and La. 190 has seen more than 900 crashes since 2013.