Official: Ascension projects promising

Ascension Parish is in the running for 36 economic development projects, which would generate more than 2,650 new jobs and represent a total investment of more than $8.2 billion, the parish’s top economic development official said Thursday.

Mike Eades, CEO and president of the Ascension Economic Development Corp., told the organization’s board of directors this compares with the 32 potential projects that were active in December 2011, which represented nearly 2,950 jobs and $4.3 billion in investment.

Of the current active projects, Eades said 22 are “A” grade.

“That means we’re certain the company is going to do something somewhere,” he said.

Two projects alone would represent nearly 1,000 jobs and $1.9 billion. Decisions are pending for Project Dashboard, a possible expansion of a manufacturer in Geismar that would create between 200 and 300 jobs and lead to a $900 million investment, and Project Frontier, a major new petrochemical project that would create 650 jobs and lead to a $1 billion investment.

This year alone the AEDC has seen a number of new plants come into the parish, including a new formic acid plant at BASF, a $2.1 billion expansion of the CF Industries nitrogen plant near Donaldsonville and the Methanex methanol production facility in Geismar. Together, they represent 655 new direct jobs and a $3.6 billion investment.

In other business, the AEDC approved its 2013 budget. The organization expects to bring in $432,800 in revenue, compared with $423,300 during 2012. The AEDC is budgeting spending $430,100 in 2013, compared with $420,800 this year. Eades said the reason for the increased spending is a 10 percent hike in employee salaries and benefits, mainly due to higher health insurance premiums.