St. Mary Parish report points to new jobs on horizon
Wed, 2013-10-09 14:23 Harlan Kirgan
By PRESTON GILL
Industry projects, job opportunities and education investments are moving forward in St. Mary Parish, the St. Mary Parish Economic Development newsletter said last week.
Projects worth millions of dollars and the potential to create scores of jobs continue to progress in the parish, according to the newsletter, which updated the following projects and associated job creations.
—The $30 million Centerville Fuel Transfer Terminal has taken a step closer to reality after Gavilon was given a permit from the U.S. Corps of Engineers to proceed with construction and will create 50 to 60 jobs.
—Allison Marine plans to add 35 new employees in Amelia and will make a $10 million expansion for additional office and fabrication space.
—Marine Turbine Technologies received a contract to manufacture one-megawatt gas-fired generators utilizing a recently available 43,000 square foot facility adjacent to their operation at the Port of West St. Mary. They expect to hire 20 employees including electricians, hydraulic technicians, machinists and manufacturing workers.
—The Port of West St. Mary will acquire the Superior Fabricators facilities and is negotiating a lease agreement with a prospective client with plans to add 100 new jobs.
—Baker Hughes has applied for tax credits for a $13 million expansion in Morgan City. Five new jobs could be created.
—The wind farm developers and investors continue to move forward with their $40 million, 20-megawatt capacity project and are seeking a power purchase agreement.
—Seacraft is working on a $5 million expansion and will add 30 to 40 employees. U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany Jr., R-Lafayette, announced on July 29 that the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded a $1.1 million grant to Seacraft to allow the shipyard to acquire a 400 metric ton travel lift. This allows the shipyard to accommodate and service larger vessels.
Frank Fink, St. Mary Parish economic development director, said this is the second grant of this type received in the parish. Two years ago, Gulf Craft received a grant through the same program which paid about half of the cost of a $3.5 million Travelift, a crane that moves ships to water.
Fink said industrial projects and expansion are not the only positive economic news for the parish. Retail continues at a brisk pace, he said. The construction of new stores and restaurants mean new jobs and new shopping and dining opportunities for residents.
Fink listed the construction or announcement of the following new stores in the newsletter:
—In Morgan City, there are the Holiday Inn Express and Smoothie King.
—In Patterson, there are the Family Dollar, Subway and Pizza Hut.
—Franklin has four major retail additions with Walgreens, Hibbett Sporting Goods, Pizza Hut and Dollar Tree.
—The Amelia Cajun Way Plaza has a Subway, Atchafalaya Café and LaFrontera, a convenience store/restaurant.
Investment in education continues as the South Central Louisiana Technical College has expanded its partnership with the public school system, opening a Franklin Campus at Franklin High School.
GOSAFE is a program that provides 27 industry-based credentials high school students can earn before they graduate. That program has been taught in Morgan City at the college campus but now it is also being taught in Franklin with six students enrolled.
Carl Moore, SCLTC Young Memorial Campus marine coordinator, said the program provides training to high school students that make them “more valuable if they go to college or more valuable if they don’t go to college.”
Carl Young, college campus dean, said discussions with the St. Mary Parish School Board led to the creation of a welding course at the school. The college provides an instructor whose pay is funded by the school board.
Young said the two semester course is so popular he will suggest another block of class time be opened at the school next year to have two classes in order to accommodate more students. Class size was limited to 17 students but there were many more applicants, he said.
Earl Meador, director of the college, said all the programs were created to enable students to enhance their job opportunities.
“We want to grow a work force with home-grown labor and keep our graduates in the parish,” Meador said.
The newsletter said the St. Stanislaus Scholarship Fund was created by Jack Kent Sr. for St. Mary Parish students interested in college preparatory curriculum in an away-from-home campus in Bay St. Louis, Miss. Various non-profits are considering active involvement in this new scholarship program, the newsletter said.
Discussions continue with Chinese representatives on the deepwater container port off the coast of the parish and looking into building a liquid natural gas plant for export.
Parish President Paul Naquin said there are at least two Chinese groups interested in investing in building LNG plants. They are looking at other areas in the state but are considering St. Mary Parish as an option.
Possibilities include something offshore associated with the deepwater port or something inland if the Corps of Engineers gives permission to deepen the Atchafalaya River, Naquin said.