NEWS

Dow announces employee layoffs

Staff reports

Dow Chemical Co. announced late last week it will be eliminating 160 company employees or about a 10 percent job cut at their Plaquemine operations.

Also in the mix is a 25 percent reduction in contractor jobs at the Plaquemine facility. Since November 2008 as many as 400 contract maintenance positions have been eliminated. A number of contractors were furloughed prior to Christmas and will not return unless there is a rejuvenation of the economy.

The petrochemical company cited a decision to close several dated, non-performing plant units; a desire to buy specialty chemical maker Rohm & Haas Co.; and plans to reorganize and streamline chemical lines were the key reasons for the job cuts. Complications with the company’s Plaquemine plant plans developed when a Kuwaiti join venture went caput and capital gained from the possible venture was a part of the expected financing of the buyout of Rohm & Haas.

Although the layoff of approximately 560 employees from the plant is expected to impact the local economy, Iberville Parish Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Hank Grace pointed to several business developments over the next few months that should boost the local conditions. French chemical company SNF Floerger SAS is interested in building a $350 million project in the Plaquemine area, while Japanese chemical company Shin-Etsu Co. Ltd. is in the final stage of building a $1.9 million U.S. subsidiary Shintech plant on Hwy. 405 South. Grace also pointed to the extension of Enterprise Boulevard so to create a loop around Plaquemine and draw interest from retailers to move businesses into the community.