Business news from around Louisiana

Announcements of new projects and business expansions continue to occur regularly across Louisiana. Here are a few highlights of the past few months.

A tank is a tank, Lockheed Martin says
NEW ORLEANS – Its experience in building giant fuel tanks for space shuttles comes in handy as Lockheed Martin Corp. invests $3 million to retrofit its eastern New Orleans plant where it soon will produce liquefied natural gas tanks. The 90-foot-long cryogenic tanks initially will store and carry the gas as fuel for the maritime industry. The work will employ about 170 people. The combined activity will nearly fill the Michoud Assembly Facility, whose future appeared dim a few years ago when the last space shuttle tank was completed.

Industry bulks up along river corridor
ST. JAMES PARISH – The already-bustling industrial corridor along the lower Mississippi River recently got yet another boost from the announcement that South Louisiana Methanol will build a $1.3 billion plant in St. James Parish, across the river from the Nucor Corp. steel plant currently under construction. The methanol plant, billed as the largest in North America, will convert natural gas into some 5,000 metric tons of methanol each day. Methanol is used to produce plastics, textiles, paint and plywood. The plant is expected to employ 63 workers with a spinoff impact of 375 additional jobs.

Jobs on the way in Pointe Coupee
LETTSWORTH – A Baton Rouge native brought good news to Pointe Coupee Parish with the announcement that BioNitrogen Corp. of Doral, Fla., plans to invest $1.25 billion to develop five plants near Lettsworth to convert agricultural waste into fertilizer. Company President Bryan Kornegay Jr., who grew up in the capital city, said the plants would employ some 260 people in operations that use tree scraps and waste from sawmills and sugar cane bagasse to produce nitrogen-based fertilizer for U.S. farmers. The company aims to begin construction next year.

Where natural gas morphs into gasoline
LAKE CHARLES – Plans by Houston-based G2X Energy to convert natural gas to gasoline could mean nearly 250 new jobs in southwestern Louisiana. The company recently announced it will build a $1.3 billion plant at the Port of Lake Charles, taking advantage of the Calcasieu River Ship Channel for distribution of the end product. G2X is leasing 200 acres at the site and says it will have the flexibility of shipping gasoline by pipeline or ocean-going vessels.

Belgian company to hire 200 in Capital City
BATON ROUGE – A Belgium-based logistics company has announced plans to build a $150 million plastics storage, custom packaging and distribution facility for producers of petrochemical products in Baton Rouge. Officials with Katoen Natie USA say the plant will employ about 200 people at polymer terminals, warehouses and distribution facilities that will support petrochemical and specialty chemical producers in the region. The company’s plans include developing tie-ins to the Kansas City Southern Railway and Canadian National Railroad, potentially becoming one of the few facilities of its kind with dual railway access.

CenturyLink adds elbow room
MONROE – North Louisiana economic stalwart CenturyLink recently broke ground on the Fortune 500 company’s new Technology Center of Excellence, a 250,000-square-foot expansion of the telecommunications company’s corporate headquarters in Monroe. The project will help fulfill the company’s 2011 announcement of an 800-job expansion. The new center will house research and development space, a network operations center and spaces where employees and vendors can collaborate on new offerings for CenturyLink customers. Completion of the technology center and previously announced projects will push CenturyLink’s statewide annual payroll past $200 million, with some 2,600 people employed in the Monroe area by 2016.

Culinary institute preserves past, future
THIBODAUX – A new culinary arts instruction building at Nicholls State University named for one of Louisiana’s best-known chefs aims to teach future generations about the art of Cajun and Creole cooking while preparing students for jobs. The Chef John Folse Culinary Institute will give Louisiana’s hospitality industry a pipeline of skilled workers and perpetuate the state’s culinary heritage.
The new building will feature four teaching kitchens, a bistro-style restaurant with two dining rooms, a cultural research center, classrooms and a commissary. The state has committed $8.1 million of the $12.6 million total cost, with the university supporting the remainder of the cost.