La. listed 10th in first-quarter clean-energy jobs

Louisiana ranked 10th in the nation for clean-energy job announcements in the first quarter of this year, the business group Environmental Entrepreneurs reported Thursday in Washington, D.C.

Ranked first through ninth were Idaho, Texas, California, Missouri, New York, Kansas, Arizona, Hawaii and New Mexico.

Nationwide, though, the announcement of new clean-energy jobs in the first quarter declined to 5,600 from the 12,000 reported for the same period in 2013.

“Given the muddied (government) policy environment on clean energy, low overall jobs numbers were expected,” said Bob Keefe, Environmental Entrepreneurs’ executive director.

Keefe added that confusion over whether Congress will reinstate tax incentives for wind-power production, biofuels and energy efficiency contributed to the downturn in clean-energy projects.

In March, IntegriCo Composites and the Louisiana Department of Economic Development announced recycled plastics will be used at a manufacturing facility coming to Springhill in Webster Parish later this year.

IntegriCo, founded in 2005, uses landfill-bound plastics to create composite railroad ties, rail crossings and industrial mats.

The firm also is moving its Texas headquarters to the 178,000-square-foot Springhill site in the North Webster Parish Industrial District.

Company officials said they are investing $20 million in the manufacturing facility and will hire 300 workers with an average annual salary of $35,000 plus benefits.

State officials estimated the new facility also will cause creation of 339 indirect jobs.

The Department of Economic Development also granted IntegriCo a performance-based incentive package that includes a $2.5 million award and an additional $2.5 million for infrastructure improvements.

To receive those incentives, IntegriCo must hire the 300 employees and begin manufacturing its products this year.

In addition to the state incentives, the North Webster Parish Industrial District provided IntegriCo a performance-based grant of $500,000 annually for 10 years.

High in the northwest, Idaho won its top national ranking after Aguacaliente announced in March it will build a 25-megawatt, $150 million geothermal plant near the town of Walker Ranch. The plant is expected to generate 800 jobs.

Environmental Entrepreneurs describes itself as a group of business leaders, investors and others who have built or financed more than 1,700 companies that have created more than 570,000 jobs.