Officials expect huge economic gain from SNF Flopam

DEIDRE CRUSE, Governmental Reporter
OFFICIAL START FOR SNF FLOPAM...Gov. Bobby Jindal and former Gov. Mike Foster join local officials to break ground Monday for a $350 million SNF Flopam facility that will be built in phases on an 800-acre site south of Plaquemine over the next five years. Trade & Industry Development magazine named the project among the top 15 new corporate investment projects announced in the United States in 2009.

A day after the groundbreaking on a $350 million SNF Flopam plant south of Plaquemine, Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso Jr. said he would call on the company to hold a job fair for local residents interested in filling the expected 500 permanent, well-paying jobs.

“I expect to get with them on that, since we were a big driving force in getting them located here,” Ourso said. He wants the Iberville Parish Council to co-sponsor the event at the Carl F. Grant Civic Center.

During a five-year construction period, SNF Flopam expects to hire 250 construction workers, and to buy construction materials from local and state vendors. The first unit is expected to go on line by the third quarter of next year.

At full operations by 2015, operating as Flopam Inc., the company expects to have a workforce of some 500 direct employees and 100 permanent contractors. Direct employees can expect average salaries of more than $57,000, plus benefits.

Gov. Bobby Jindal, former Gov. Mike Foster, SNF Holding Company President Peter Nichols and other local and state officials who were instrumental in negotiations to locate the plant in Iberville Parish joined Ourso at the groundbreaking.

“This facility is the largest, single greenfield investment in the history of our company,” Nichols said. “We've reached this significant point in our project with tremendous support from the State of Louisiana and so many individuals in Iberville Parish.”

Flopam will manufacture a water-soluble polymer commonly used to help remove impurities from water and wastewater.

According to the company, the product, polyacrylamide, also has been used in oil and natural gas drilling, and has had successful use in enhanced oil recovery.

To serve customers in the oil and gas industry, SNF plans to locate an oil and gas engineering group in Plaquemine. Initially, the group will include some 20 engineers, project managers and support staff.

“We look forward to executing our construction plans over the next few years and having a lasting impact on the parish and state,” Nichols said.

An LSU economic impact analysis suggests the facility will inject more than $3.7 million into the state's economy, and that the project will generate $107 million in state tax revenue and $29.9 million in local tax revenue over the next 15 years.

“Since day one, we have aggressively pursued new business development prospects so that we can create good paying jobs for our people. Flopam's decision to invest in the Capital Region is a major economic development win for Louisiana,” Jindal said.

Parish President Ourso said he was more interested in it being a great project for Iberville.

“We have been so fortunate and blessed to land Shintech and SNF Flopam,” Ourso told the POST/SOUTH. (Shintech is nearing the end of a $1.9 million construction project in the same area.)

He thanked the governor and his staff, the state Department of Economic Development and local officials for helping to make the SNF Flopam project a reality, but gave special thanks to residents of the Ella Road community who relocated to make way for the plant.

“If they had not been willing to relocate for growth and jobs, we would not be here today,” the parish president said. He recognized three of them at the groundbreaking, Janice Dickerson, Vera Brooks and Dorothy Williams.

Ourso said Governor Foster, as well as Governor Jindal, played a key roll in negotiating with Shintech to allow a rail link across its property to the SNF Flopam plant.

“Without Shintech, this could not have been a reality because Shintech helped with rail,” he said. “Foster played a big part in making that happen, along with Jindal.”

Flopam officials have committed publicly to operating a safe and environmentally sound facility. After an expedited process, the company received its environmental operating permits from the state Department of Environmental Quality earlier this summer.

Company officials also have said Flopam intends to be a “good neighbor.” The company opened its community participation with a $25,000 donation to the Iberville Foundation for Academic Excellence, a nonprofit organization that provides competitive grant funding to local teachers and schools.

SNF is the world's largest producer of polyacrylamide, with more than 130,000 customers worldwide.

SNF Holding Company is the American subsidiary of the French company SNF Floerger. Nichols has served as its president since 2000. From 2000 to 20009, the company's sales volume has grown from $280 million to $704 million, while the number of employees has increased from 521 to 1,067.

Flopam has a website for its Plaquemine plant,

WELCOMING CONSTRUCTION...Iberville Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso Jr. makes the final remakes Monday at the groundbreaking for the parish's next chemical manufacturing facility, SNF Flopam. With him on stage are, seated from left, Gov. Bobby Jindal, SNF Holding Company President Peter Nichols, state Rep. Elton M. Aubert, former Gov. Mike Foster and state Rep. Karen St. Germain. The plant will manufacture a water-soluble polymer used in removing impurities from water and wastewater, as well as in enhanced oil recovery. At full operations, the company expects to hire 500 direct employees and 100 permanent contractors.