Development-ready locations attract industrial projects throughout the state
When Germany-based manufacturer VEGA went looking for an industrial site to house a new production center in the U.S., it studied locations throughout the South. The Grezaffi North certified site in Geismar, Louisiana, fit the bill, providing VEGA Americas with the right acreage, utilities, transportation solutions and other amenities to help the company get up and running. The development-ready site, along the Mississippi River downstream from Baton Rouge, helped Louisiana win the project – and its 120 new direct jobs – over a location in south Texas and other southern locations.
“The proximity to the chemical corridor was key in our investment decision,” VEGA Americas President Ron Hegyesi said when the $22.4 million project was announced in December 2018. “This location will be a hub for North America, Central America and South America.”
More than 200 miles north, Louisiana Economic Development facilitated a multi-faceted project that partnered Graphic Packaging International and DHL Supply Chain in a combined $274 million capital investment. The companies considered Georgia, Arkansas and Mississippi for a new folding carton and logistics facility, but the Millhaven property at Monroe proved to be an ideal location. Like the VEGA Americas location, Millhaven is an LED Certified Site vetted by a third-party engineering firm as shovel-ready.
“The new 1.27 million-square-foot Graphic Packaging International facility in Monroe is a prime example of how development-ready, certified sites can positively impact new capital investment and economic growth for a community,” said Scott Martinez, president of the North Louisiana Economic Partnership. “Our community could have lost this project, considered the largest facility of its kind in the world, had we not had a certified site available.”
As Louisiana’s recent project wins demonstrate, certified sites can play an important role in investment decisions. Louisiana offers a superior logistics infrastructure, and the state’s available sites provide efficient access to major markets while benefitting from Louisiana’s other advantages, such as low business taxes, low cost of living and competitive wages.
A Successful Process
Louisiana Economic Development has positioned the state as a national leader in certified sites that serve as important tools for economic development. Louisiana ranks No. 2 in the U.S. with 98 state-sponsored certified sites on the books – and more are on the way. Eleven certified sites have been put into active commerce in recent years, and others are actively promoted by LED and regional and local economic development partners.
Certification is based on a rigorous review process conducted for LED by an independent, third-party engineering firm. For an industrial firm looking to develop a new facility, the process removes questions about environmental, zoning, floodplain and soil suitability, and clears the path to relatively risk-free development.
Through the LED Certified Sites program, Louisiana and its economic development partners have cultivated properties in all regions of the state to appeal to the broadest range of business and industrial site selectors.
Near New Orleans, the Sinclair Tract in St. Bernard Parish has been optioned by the Port of New Orleans and could become a multiphase cargo container and business park coordinated by the port and area partners. As planned, investment for this innovative project on the lower Mississippi River could reach or exceed $1 billion.
The Franklin Farm site in Richland Parish is particularly well-suited for opportunities in the automotive sector or other manufacturing activities. It consists of 1,440 acres, and 4,000 additional acres are available around the primary site to accommodate supplier facilities.
In Central Louisiana, England Airpark features two heavy industrial sites of 865 and 700 acres. The sites offer ready access to Interstate 49, the Red River via the Port of Alexandria, the Kansas City Southern Railroad, and Alexandria International Airport.
In the state’s Southwest Region, the T.O. Allen Industrial Park in Jefferson Davis Parish is being developed as a unique rail-industrial project. The park’s two certified sites, designated north and south, offer access to the innovative Rail Logix facility at nearby Lacassine Industrial Park. The Rail Logix terminal is being built to accommodate 800 rail cars and the industrial customers they serve.
Near the VEGA Americas site in Geismar, Mauser USA announced a $10 million packaging facility that relies upon the logistical solutions of the Grezaffi South certified site. The company provides custom-engineered packaging for industrial manufacturers. The project was designed to create 28 new direct jobs in its initial phase, with the potential for a second phase that would result in 19 additional jobs on site.
“Mauser continues to grow by supporting the growth strategies of our customers,” Mauser Group CEO Hans-Peter Schaefer said. “Louisiana has provided a strong location to achieve this growth and Mauser is proud to be a part of it.”
Ruston, a college town of more than 22,000 residents, is strategically located along Interstate 20 in north-central Louisiana. The home of Louisiana Tech University, nearby Grambling State University and Delta Community College’s Ruston campus, the city works diligently to recruit new business and industry. In recent years, it has attracted Mortgage Contracting Services and a regional office for Weyerhaeuser, the international timber, land and forest products company, along with scores of retail businesses, hotels and restaurants.
In December 2018, Ruston unveiled a 150-acre site at its municipal industrial park that became LED’s 97th certified site. That designation qualifies the location as a prime industrial site, based upon zoning, title work, environmental studies, soil analysis and surveys. It features a full slate of utilities, including city electric, water and sewer service; Kansas City Southern Class I rail service; fiber-optic-enabled telecommunications; and ready access to U.S. Highway 80 and the I-20 Cyber Corridor.
“Ruston and Lincoln Parish are blessed to have so many assets that help us promote our community,” Mayor Ronny Walker said. “This LED Certified Site is just another example of the City Council and Ruston citizens seeing the overall vision and giving our community another way to recruit industry. Through our economic partnership with Louisiana Tech University, we look forward to expanding on the economic growth of our city.”
LED determined the Ruston site’s suitability for industrial development through its rigorous review process. With up-front assurance about key features, industrial firms looking to develop a new facility can feel confident about a certified site’s suitability.
Having a development-ready certified site should help the city and parish with marketing and promotion of the industrial site to potential developers. The regional North Louisiana Economic Partnership offered to assist the city in marketing the new certified site to global economic development prospects.
“A community with an LED Certified Site stands out as a frontrunner of locations that are most attractive to site selection consultants and to the major manufacturing, distribution and industrial prospects they represent,” LED Secretary Don Pierson said. “These consultants and their prospects know the time and value efficiencies that come with fully prepared sites. LED’s program that creates certified sites in partnership with communities builds great potential in these communities. With this milestone, Ruston is better prepared to attract new investment and secure new jobs.”
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