Officials with Bayer Crop Science, a division of the multinational which includes the acquired business of Monsanto Co., estimated that a major expansion at its Luling chemical plant planned to wrap up this year is more than a year behind schedule due to weather delays.
In 2016, Bayer Crop Science, then Monsanto, signed a deal with the Louisiana Economic Development department for incentives in exchange for an expansion worth $975 million and 100 new jobs in addition to 20 contractors.
The company already employed about 665 workers at the Luling plant at the time. The expansion was tied to production of dicamba, an herbicide used in agriculture as part of its Roundup Ready Xtend Crop System products.
The state awarded the company a performance-based Modernization Tax Credit worth $5 million in addition to a $1.7 million Economic Development Award Program grant for reimbursement of infrastructure costs.
Company officials asked the Louisiana Economic Development Corporation board Thursday for an extension to meet requirements under the $1.7 million grant since the project is delayed. The extension request was approved by the board of directors.
Bayer Crop Science has hired about 100 new employees so far at the site and expect to hire another 30 workers after the plant opens, said Keith McLaren, Dicamba Business Unit Leader at the company.
It has already spent $968 million on the project so far which broke ground in 2017 and is now expected to wrap up construction by the end of 2020. It's about 70% complete and there are more than 1,000 construction workers on the site each day. The plant is now slated to open in 2021.
"We're currently projecting a 15 month delay on the project," McLaren said. "This isn't a case of us not making progress, but of us running into some unforeseen issues. We experienced delays on that due to weather."
The company also applied for incentives tied to the Quality Jobs program, which is a cash rebate to companies up to 6% for no more than 10 years in addition to state sales and use tax rebate on capital expenditures. In addition to the previous Industrial Tax Exemption Program which provides 100% tax abatement for up to 10 years.