A swimming pool chemical plant that was damaged by Hurricane Laura and burned to the ground last year near Lake Charles is looking to rebuild and expand its plant and wants tax breaks for the project.
The expansion itself, known as plant No. 5, would be a $50 million capital investment, according to Bio-Lab Inc.'s incentive application.
The total investment under consideration this week by the state Board of Commerce and Industry would be $142.6 million.
Dubbed project Juniper in state records, the Bio-Lab chlorine plant would manufacture trichloroisocyanuric acid and disodium isocyanurate used as a sanitizer in swimming pools.
Meanwhile, Bio-Lab laid off about 100 employees in the interim as it seeks to rebuild, according to Bloomberg.
The company told the state in its application that it has 30 jobs at the site, and the expansion would create 71 jobs. This would be in addition to 170 construction jobs supported at the site.
Bio-Lab is headquartered in Lawrenceville, Georgia. It is a subsidiary of privately-held KIK Custom Products, a Canadian business.
"The Bio-Lab chlorine plant was a complete loss from the fire that broke out during Hurricane Laura," according to the company's application signed by Derek Kroft, vice president of tax at Kik Custom Products. "As a result of this qualified disaster, Bio-Lab plans to rebuild the plant, which will include a Plant 5 expansion."
The reconstructed petrochemical complex includes shipping, maintenance, laboratory, a machine shop and the swimming pool chemical producing unit itself.
The project period started March 9 and is expected to wrap up by May 2022.
Demand for swimming pool products and related chemicals has boomed during the coronavirus pandemic as many employees work from home and have invested in home improvement projects.
The annual proposed exemption would be $2 million in property taxes, and over a 10-year time frame would be worth $16.7 million. Under new Industrial and Tax Exemption Program rules, the company could get 80% property tax abatement over 10-years if approved by the local council or police jury, sheriff's office and school board.
The project is a chance for local workers to have jobs again after the petrochemical plant is rebuilt and is "preferable to closing the operation and losing these skilled workers," Don Pierson, state secretary of Louisiana Economic Development, said in a recent email.
“As part of our plans, we recently filed an economic incentive application reflective of our long-term commitment to the Lake Charles community, of which we are a part. This application is based on the creation of approximately 270 jobs and a significant $142 million investment over time in the local economy," KIK Custom Products said in a statement.
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