Covering Louisiana

Dec 15, 2010 12:36 PM by Press Release

Gov. Jindal Announces Lighthouse for the Blind to Relocate Operations Back to Louisiana

BATON ROUGE - Today, Governor Bobby Jindal joined The Lighthouse for the Blind President Bill Price, East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Melvin "Kip" Holden and Baton Rouge Area Chamber President Adam Knapp to announce that The Lighthouse for the Blind, a nonprofit organization that serves people who are blind or visually impaired, will locate a new paper cup manufacturing facility in Baton Rouge. Prior to Hurricane Katrina, the company had a cup manufacturing facility in New Orleans, but it was forced to move to CrystalSprings, Miss., after the storm.

The project will represent a capital investment of $5.7 million, and will create 75 new, direct jobs. At least 50 percent of these jobs will go to legally blind individuals. The Lighthouse for the Blind continues to maintain its headquarters in New Orleans and these operations will be unaffected by this relocation. The Louisiana Department of Economic Development (LED) estimates that the 75 new, direct jobs will result in approximately 104 new, indirect jobs, and will generate $4.4 million in new state tax revenues and $1.9 million in local tax revenues over the next 10 years.

Governor Jindal said, "Today's announcement marks the return of The Lighthouse for the Blind's paper cup manufacturing operations back to Louisiana where this project will provide rewarding job opportunities for legally blind individuals throughout the Capital Region. For Baton Rouge and the Capital Region, these new jobs and new revenues will continue to strengthen our manufacturing sector and provide another boost to the economy."

"We are excited to finally be able to return our successful paper cup manufacturing operation back to Louisiana, and especially the Baton Rouge area," said Price. "This would not have been possible without the joint support of state and city leaders. The jobs and services the Lighthouse will provide are needed, and life-changing. We are looking forward to becoming part of this great city."

"The Lighthouse creates quality jobs that come with full benefits and brings new employment opportunities to this under-served segment of our population," Holden said. "While 50 percent of the "direct labor" jobs will be performed by individuals who are legally blind, many new jobs will also be created for sighted individuals as well."

"Job wins in this economy are all important, but the value of this relocation goes far beyond the nuts and bolts of economic development," said Knapp. "It creates significant community goodwill for those jobs to provide opportunities for students from Louisiana's School for the Blind to find gainful employment in the Baton Rouge area."

To secure the expansion, LED committed an incentive package that includes performance-based financial assistance for facility upgrades of $1.5 million from LED's Rapid Response fund, as well as a sales tax rebate from LED's Enterprise Zone program for construction costs. In addition, East Baton Rouge Parish committed an incentive package that includes performance-based financial assistance of $0.5 million, a low-interest loan of $1.0 million and $0.9 million in property tax exemptions.

The Lighthouse for the Blind is a New Orleans-based nonprofit organization that serves people who are blind or visually impaired by providing job training, competitive employment, and health-related services. It is dedicated to promoting independence for people who are blind and visually impaired by providing programs that focus on economic opportunity and self-reliance. The Lighthouse also manufactures paper towels, mess-hall trays, and paper cups for federal government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. General Services Administration.

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