Ascension Council OKs jobs agreement with CF Industries

Ascension Parish Council members voted Monday to approve a “cooperative endeavor agreement” with CF Industries regarding the company’s hiring for the planned $2.1 billion expansion of its Donaldsonville nitrogen production facility.

The 8-0 vote grants approval for the company’s participation in the state’s Quality Jobs Program, operated by Louisiana Economic Development.

The program provides rebates to companies that create well-paid jobs and promote economic development, according to the Quality Jobs Program’s website.

The incentives include a cash rebate of 5 percent to 6 percent of annual gross payroll for new, direct jobs for up to 10 years, as well as a possible 4 percent sales and use tax rebate on capital expenditures or a 1.5 percent investment tax credit for qualified expenses.

A total of 93 new direct jobs will also be created with the expansion, officials have said, along with 250 construction jobs.

The approved agreement states that CF Industries “agrees to make a reasonable effort” to hire employees who are residents of Ascension Parish.

“CF has always been a great neighbor in Ascension Parish, especially in our industrial corridor,” Parish President Tommy Martinez said.

“The fact that they continually strive to hire Ascension Parish residents makes this expansion that much more vital to our local economy.”

Unveiled last fall, the project — referred to as “Project Happy Corn” in economic development documents — will expand what is already the largest nitrogen-producing complex in North America, covering 1,400 acres.

In other business, the council approved a pair of grant applications for road projects, one of which involves a turnabout at the intersection of Roddy and Cannon roads, north of Gonzales.

Parish Grants Coordinator Martha Collins said the grants — each totaling $500,000 and calling for $50,000 in matching funds — come from the DOTD Louisiana Technical Assistance Program’s Louisiana Local Road Safety Improvement grant program.

Martinez said the Roddy-Cannon turnabout is one of eight proposed turnabouts set for Roddy Road.

“We met with DOTD last week, and I think we’ll be able to work with them and get some funding for seven other turnabouts,” he said.

The other project is a $1 million project calling for safety improvements to Henry Road, located in the Praireville area.