A Walker steel products manufacturer on Friday announced a $2.1 million expansion and purchase of robotic equipment projected to create dozens of new jobs.

Oxlean Manufacturing, located on Florida Boulevard, builds steel products, including parts for equipment used in the oil and gas industry. Founded in 2013, it currently employs 37 workers.

Oxlean is expanding its facility by 11,000 square feet and installing automated equipment to streamline the company’s production, said Chief Operating Officer John Sharkey.

The improvements come with state backing. Oxlean was given an incentive package that included a $200,000 Economic Development Award Program forgivable loan to help fund the expansion, according to a news release issued by the Governor’s Office. The company is also expected to use the state’s quality jobs and industrial tax exemption programs.

In the coming decade, the company will hire 73 new welders, estimators, administrative staff and employees to work in the shipping and receiving department, Chief Financial Officer Jessica Huval said. The average annual salary of the workers will be $55,000.

Gov. Bobby Jindal, who attended the announcement at the Walker Municipal Building, congratulated the city and Livingston Parish for the new jobs. He remarked that the holiday season is the only time of year many families in Louisiana will get to see relatives who have moved out of state in search for more lucrative work.

The state must continue to bolster the economy and support growth in the private sector, Jindal said.

“The majority of the new jobs that we’ll create in our economy will come from companies that are already here,” he said.

Walker Mayor Rick Ramsey said the industrial facility where Oxlean is located has changed hands many times over the years.

“The recent purchase by Oxlean Manufacturing and the ownership’s commitment to renovation and expansion of the facility will result in creation of new jobs and additional revenue for the city,” he said in a prepared statement. “This is truly good news for the city of Walker.”

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