Wanhua Chemical Group Co. Ltd. plans to build a $1.3 billion chemical plant that will employ 170 people at Convent on the east bank of St. James Parish. Wanhua executive Weiqi Hua and Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards announced the project Friday (Nov. 16).
Louisiana offered the company a $4.3 million grant and tax breaks to seal the deal. The state Economic Development Department says the direct jobs will carry an average annual salary of more than $80,000, and it projects another 1,060 new indirect jobs.
The 250-acre site is at Louisiana 3125 and 3214 and has rail service and deep-draft access to the Mississippi River. Wanhua plans to produce methylene diphenyl diisocyanate, commonly used for polyurethane automotive parts, foams and elastomers and with applications in such consumer areas as appliances, electronics, spray-foam insulation, furniture, textiles and footwear.
In April 2017, Edwards and Wanhua announced the company’s decision to build the project in Louisiana. The choice of the St. James Parish site came after engineering, development and final site selection work.
Wanhua plans to start construction in 2019. Construction is predicted to be substantially complete by the end of 2021.
“Louisiana, and specifically St. James Parish, provides Wanhua with everything we were looking for,” said Weiqi, chief executive officer of Wanhua Chemical U.S. Operations LLC, said in a statement released by the Economic Development Department. “More than anything, successful operations are about people, and we know that Louisiana’s workforce is among the most productive in the world.”
The Economic Development Department said it offered Wanhua its LED FastStart workforce training program and a performance-based grant of $4.3 million to offset site infrastructure costs. Wanhua also is expected to use Louisiana’s Quality Jobs and Industrial Tax Exemption programs.
Wanhua is a publicly traded corporation listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange. It established a business development office in the Philadelphia area in 2006 and its U.S. headquarters in Houston in 2014.
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Drew Broach covers Jefferson Parish politics and education, plus other odds and ends, for NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune. Email: email@example.com. Facebook: Drew Broach TP. Twitter: drewbroach1. Google+: Drew Broach.