Dow plans $1 billion investment in Plaquemine

Advocate staff file photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNON -- Dow Chemical Co. plans to sell or spin off 40 of its plants, including two in Plaquemine, as the company exits the less-profitable chlorine business. Show caption
Advocate staff file photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNON -- Dow Chemical Co. plans to sell or spin off 40 of its plants, including two in Plaquemine, as the company exits the less-profitable chlorine business.

Dow Chemical Co. announced Tuesday it will invest $1.06 billion to build two new polyolefins plants and upgrade its ethylene capacity at the company’s 3,300-acre site in Plaquemine — a move that will create 71 new jobs at the facility and an additional 470 indirect jobs.

Construction on the new polyolefins plants is set to begin by the end of the year, with work on the ethylene efficiency upgrade to start immediately.

The new plant sites will be within the existing Plaquemine facility, with one located on the Iberville side of the sprawling plant and the other on the West Baton Rouge Parish side.

The expansion should be complete by the end of 2016. The bulk of new hiring is expected to take place in 2015.

“Between the direct jobs, the contractor jobs and the third-party company jobs supported by Dow here in Plaquemine, and the new jobs that are on the way, Dow will provide 3,750 great jobs for Louisiana families,” Gov. Bobby Jindal said during a news conference at Dow’s Plaquemine facility.

The state is providing Dow with a $2.84 million Modernization Tax Credit that will be claimed over the next five years. The company is also expected to use the state’s Quality Jobs and Industrial Tax Exemption programs.

One of the new plants will produce next-generation synthetic rubber while the other will produce high-performance polyethylene.

The new plants will increase the supply of chemicals for Dow’s Performance Plastics unit, which has applications in adhesives, sporting goods, diaper components, automotive interiors and exteriors, carpeting, home furnishings and personal care products.

Talks between state officials and Dow about the expansion began in February.

“When you do business in a pro-business state, it helps winning these types of projects,” Dow spokeswoman Stacey Chiasson said. “It’s so easy for us to do business here.”

Chiasson said there were three factors that influenced the company’s decision to expand its Iberville facility: the people, available land and logistics.

“We can get products in and out of that facility easily by railroad, highway or waterway,” Chiasson said. “There is also land available for growth and the people there have a ‘can-do’ spirit that allows businesses to do great things there.”

Iberville Parish President Mitch Ourso Jr. told Dow officials the company has been a “diamond” in the parish.

“You could have went a lot of places; thanks for staying here,” Ourso said. “(Iberville and West Baton Rouge parishes) are winners today.”

West Baton Rouge Parish President Riley “Pee Wee” Berthelot said the company’s expansion into the parish will highlight the need “to focus on additional infrastructure projects, such as expanding routes over the Intracoastal Waterway and improving (La. 1) to meet the increasing transportation demand.”

Dow opened its Plaquemine facility in 1956.

The company has 6,000 direct and contract jobs in Louisiana with a direct annual payroll of $312 million.

The company has operations in Grand Bayou, Sterlington, Greensburg, Hahnville and Weeks Island.

According to the company’s website, Dow’s 2012 annual sales reached about $57 billion and the company employed about 54,000 people worldwide.