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MARCH 2006

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Still Standing

   Recovery is of course one explanation for how the New Orleans- Metairie- Kenner metro area finished 2005 among the top 25 in the country for corporate projects. Resources is another.
   Among the top projects in the metro area were a
Pat Bowe, president, Cargill Sweeteners North America, says the company's investment with Louisiana Sugar Cane Products in a new sugar refinery in Reserve is "an investment that goes beyond rebuilding to real expansion."
$100- million, 200- employee investment from Cargill in Reserve, La., and a $28- million investment by Monsanto in Luling. Refinery expansions from Motiva and Chalmette Refining were in the mix, as was a tank terminal investment from International-Matex in St. Rose.
   Some if not all of these projects were waylaid by the hurricanes, but they are proceeding apace — if not expanding their scope.
   On November 1, 2005, Minneapolis- based Cargill Sugar North America announced it would team with Louisiana Sugar Cane Products, Inc. (LSCPI), a 10- mill, 700- grower co-op, to build and operate a 1-million- ton- per-year sugar refinery on the grounds of Cargill's Terre Haute Marine complex in Reserve, La., upriver from New Orleans. Subject to corporate approvals by the companies, the groundbreaking is due to occur in spring 2006 with production starting in early 2008.
   "This is the most significant new enterprise in the history of the Louisiana sugar cane industry," said Mike Daigle, board chairman of LSCPI.
   "In addition to the prospect of expanding the range of customers we can serve, we're thrilled at the opportunity to contribute to Louisiana's economic rebirth in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina with an investment that goes beyond rebuilding to real expansion," said Cargill Sweeteners North America President Pat Bowe.
   Another Cargill project with regional flavor opened in December in Lecompte, La., south of Alexandria, when the company unveiled a new 140,000- ton- per-year feed manufacturing facility that will serve the pet food, aquaculture, equine, beef, poultry, dairy and wild game industries. Cargill Animal Nutrition mills from Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas pitched in to supply feed to customers during the quick nine months it took to construct the plant on the same property as the old one.
   With a $2- million investment by Cajun Sugar Co-op, sugar also played a part in the biggest Louisiana micro for project activity in 2005, New Iberia. Home to an industrial base that serves the rig and exploration needs of the region's energy industry, the town also saw 2005 projects from Williamson Production Services (pledging 400 new jobs) and Thomas Energy Services. The largest project was a $13- million, 150-job investment from Air Logistics to expand its maintenance, repair and overhaul complex for helicopters at Acadiana Regional Airport.
   The project involves the addition of 50,000 sq. ft. (4,645 sq. m.) of industrial space, as well as new office space. Employing 3,300 worldwide, the company employs some 900 across the entire Gulf Coast, all in the service of the energy industry.
   At least part of the increase in jobs is coming by way of a relocation away from Louisiana. Before any of the bad weather had arrived, Air Logistics' parent company Bristow Group, Inc., (formerly Offshore Logistics) announced in August 2005 that it was moving its corporate headquarters from Lafayette, La., where it got its start in 1969, to Houston, opting like many to be where the heart of industry action is.
   While a handful of positions will shift to Texas, another handful of staff will shift to the new space in New Iberia, becoming just part of a community that is quickly turning into the literal launch pad for Gulf industrial services.


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