Last Modified: Tuesday, December 04, 2012 12:08 PM
A study by LSU’s Division of Economic Development estimated that Sasol’s Westlake projects will create a total economic impact of $46.2 billion over the next 20 years, Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret told the American Press on Monday.
Southwest Louisiana’s close proximity to plentiful shale gas fields just north of the region is what makes the area attractive to Sasol, Moret said.
“And the state has been cultivating gas-to-liquid projects for several years,” Moret said. “We have been working closely with them to develop this project.”
Moret said regional partnerships with the Port of Lake Charles and the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance assisted in site selection.
“Our region is under good management, and we have an excellent workforce,” said George Swift, Alliance CEO. “Without that foundation, they wouldn’t have picked here. We had property that met all the criteria — having access to the Port of Lake Charles, existing pipeline infrastructure, interstate and rail access and having adequate property.”
Sasol was also lured in by tax incentives by the state.
As part of the project, the state has committed to funding a new training center at Sowela that will focus on industrial technology.
“That’s going to represent a total investment of over $20 million from the state, including land, the building and specialized equipment,” Gov. Bobby Jindal said Monday.
Initially, the training center will be focused primarily on meeting Sasol’s workforce needs.
“The commitment to help train the workforce needed helped make our region attractive,” Swift said. “You have to invest in projects with long-term dividends. We will be able to attract the workforce or upgrade the people that are working.”
Swift said Sasol’s announcement is the beginning of a “new era” in the region.