Just like the Metro Council three weeks ago, the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board on Thursday easily approved requests from two manufacturing companies for 10-year industrial tax breaks for proposed expansions of their Baton Rouge facility.
It’s the second batch of requests approved by the School Board since it adopted guidelines in January on handling requests under the more than 80-year-old Industrial Tax Exemption Program.
The two tax breaks total $38.6 million over the next decade.
Critics of the program, including the faith-based group Together Baton Rouge, did not object to the request and had no one speak Thursday. That was a stark contrast with January when the group packed a board meeting to persuade the board to narrowly reject two tax break requests from ExxonMobil.
Gov. John Bel Edwards through an executive order gave local tax authorities the power to decide which companies can get the tax break.
Formosa Plastics, a polyvinyl chloride manufacturer, was awarded a 10-year tax exemption for a $332 million expansion project that will increase production capacity and sales at its facility by 20%. The expansion is expected to create 15 jobs in addition to the more than 321 positions the company currently has.
The company is getting a $38.2 million tax break over the 10-year time frame.
Fabricated Steel Products, on North Flannery Road in Baton Rouge, was also awarded its requested tax break, but on the contingency it resubmits its application to the Louisiana Economic Development board.
The company is adding two metal buildings that will house two steel processing systems that will cut, drill and fabricate steel parts.
The LED report notes the expansion has an estimated value of $2.2 million.
Initially, Fabricate Steel was planning to add only 2 new jobs to the company's existing 55 — below the job creation standards of both the Metro Council and the School Board.
Donnie Miller, director for business development for the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, said the company later revised its numbers, saying it would actually add 10 new jobs over a five-year period.
Board President Mike Gaudet was complimentary of Fabricated Steel’s application, noting it is a local company hiring local people.
“This is the kind of project and the kind of exemption I’m very proud to vote for,” Gaudet said.