Chemical company looks to Ascension for $70 million plant

Specialty chemicals maker Stepan Co. announced plans to complete front-end engineering and design work for a potential $60 million to $70 million chemical production facility in Ascension Parish’s industrial corridor.

The company, headquartered near Chicago, recently authorized the feasibility work and will make a final investment decision on the project in the second quarter of 2015.

If completed, the project would create 33 new direct jobs with an average annual salary of $70,000 per year, plus benefits. Louisiana’s economic development department estimates the project will result in an additional 98 new indirect jobs.

The company, which had $1.9 billion in revenue in 2013, is a global manufacturer of specialty and intermediate chemicals used in a range of industries.

Stepan said it is in property negotiations for a manufacturing site in Ascension Parish, where it would make intermediate chemicals for Stepan’s global surfactants and polymer production sites, as well as finished products for its global customers.

Surfactants are key ingredients in consumer and industrial cleaning compounds, such as detergents, cleansing or wetting agents, foaming or defoaming agents and degreasers or dispersants. Polymers are used in foam, coatings, adhesives, commercial roofing and insulation, as well as a variety of industrial applications.

The state began discussions about a potential Louisiana project with Stepan Co. in June 2012. To secure the potential project, the state offered the company a $500,000 performance-based grant to offset infrastructure costs and the services of the state’s workforce training program. The company also is expected to use Louisiana’s Quality Jobs and Industrial Tax Exemption programs.

Ascension Parish President Tommy Martinez said Stepan may tap into one or more relationships with other companies in the area for its production.

“Taking full advantage of these upstream/downstream relationships is a key priority for economic development in Ascension Parish,” he said.