Commercial real estate wasn’t the only sector of the local economy to see a lot of action in 2014. Several significant business deals in the industrial and tech sectors were inked last year, signaling continued growth and economic development in the Capital Region.
“We saw a continued high pace of economic development in the region,” Baton Rouge Area Chamber President and CEO Adam Knapp says. “That was particularly true in manufacturing and software development.”
Those achievements didn’t go unnoticed. Baton Rouge was named to Southern Business & Developmentmagazine’s 2014 Top Ten Shining Examples of Economic Development That’s Working. It ranked first among selected U.S. cities compared for cost competitiveness, according to KPMG; Southern Business & Development also recognized Baton Rouge as the 2014 Major Market of the Year.
Below are some of the deals that made headlines.
Stixis, a Bangalore, India-based software firm, announced it will relocate its U.S. headquarters from Dallas to the Louisiana Technology Park on Florida Boulevard. Officials estimate the company will create 230 new direct jobs in the Capital Region with an average salary of $59,500 per year, plus benefits. Stixis engineers software solutions coupled with application management, maintenance and support for customers across a range of sectors, including oil and gas, health care, digital media and entertainment, education, retail and government. The company says it chose Louisiana for its headquarters relocation after considering many other states around the nation.
Louisiana’s first LNG facility at the Port of Greater Baton Rouge
Houston-based Waller Marine Inc. and Omaha-based Tenaska NG Fuels announced plans to build a natural gas liquefaction and fueling facility on roughly 80 acres at the Port of Greater Baton Rouge. Construction of the facility, known as Tenaska Bayou LNG, is expected to take between 18 months and two years. Commercial operation is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2017. The facility initially will be capable of producing 200,000 gallons of LNG daily, which is the energy equivalent of more than 133,000 gallons of gasoline. The plant will also provide compressed natural gas. The companies say the LNG and compressed gas will be a lower-cost and cleaner-burning alternative for high-horsepower marine, transportation, natural gas and oil exploration, as well as production industries throughout the region.
NFR Bioenergy Sugar Refinery project
NRF BioEnergy officials announced plans to spend roughly $312 million to install biorefineries at more than 10 sugar refining hubs in south Louisiana, pending completions of lease and biomass agreements with the sugar mills. If the sugar mill agreements are landed, NFR BioEnergy will construct a series of biorefineries across the region that would create an estimated 450 new direct jobs and an additional 1,903 new indirect jobs. NFR BioEnergy will convert sugarcane waste, known as bagasse, into hardened energy pellets for use as fuel at global power plants. NFR BioEnergy has begun development of the first biorefinery in White Castle, where it is co-locating the facility with the Cora Texas Sugar Mill. Currently based in Plandome, New York, NRF BioEnergy will move its headquarters to White Castle as it completes the first part of the project.
ClearEdge Wholesale Glass
ClearEdge Wholesale Glass announced its relocation from New Orleans to Baton Rouge, where it will spend $2.65 million to renovate a 41,000-square-foot facility here for manufacturing operations. ClearEdge, which began operations in New Orleans in 2009, will move about 20 employees to Baton Rouge as part of the relocation. Additionally, Louisiana Economic Development estimates the company’s move will create 120 more new direct jobs in Baton Rouge, as well as 113 new indirect jobs.
Pod Pack International
Pod Pack International, a local company that produces individually portioned packets of coffee and tea for use in hotels, offices and restaurants, announced plans to expand its presence in Baton Rouge. The company will invest more than $10 million over the next three years, building a new, larger manufacturing facility and hiring 19 new employees. The 17-year-old company, which moved to Baton Rouge from New Orleans in 2000, has kept a low profile over the years. It has recently seen exponential growth. The market for single-serve coffee has grown over the past few years, and Pod Pack has seen its revenues more than triple. Pod Pack has not yet selected a location for its new and expanded manufacturing facility but is eyeing several potential sites.