Covering Louisiana

Sep 28, 2011 4:16 PM by Kate Durio

Ormet Facility Reaches 250 New Jobs

Today, Ormet Corp. CEO Michael Tanchuk announced the company's milestone of reaching full employment of 250 jobs just four months after announcing plans to reopen a dormant alumina refinery on the Mississippi River in Ascension Parish.

"I want to thank the governor and his economic development group for their strong support in terms of training for the restart, the hiring process, and economic incentives," said Tanchuk, the Ormet president and CEO.

At roughly 330,000 square feet, the Ormet facility had remained silent for more than four years. In May, Ormet announced it would hire 250 people and invest $21 million to renovate the refinery. Production now is scheduled to start the first week of October, and shipments of the primary raw material, bauxite, already are arriving.

In addition to the 250 direct jobs, the project will ultimately result in the creation of another 1,050 indirect jobs in the Capital Region economy. Jobs at Ormet average $57,000 a year, plus benefits. During renovation of the alumina refinery, Ormet reached a peak of 600 construction workers.

LED's Business Expansion and Retention Group, or BERG, began working with Ormet in mid-2010 to develop a plan for reopening the Burnside refinery on La. 22 south of Gonzales. Ormet agreed to invest $21 million and restore employment at the site to 250, and LED offered a 5 percent state Retention and Modernization Tax Credit, valued at about $1 million on the Ormet project, along with a performance-based loan of $1.5 million that's forgivable if Ormet sustains its job and payroll figures. LED's Louisiana FastStartTM, ranked the No. 1 workforce solutions program in the nation, helped Ormet attract 2,500 candidates to job fairs, and FastStart helped facilitate hiring and training.

The company also is expected to utilize statutory Louisiana incentives, such as the Quality Jobs and Industrial Tax Exemption programs. Ormet is on track to spend $97.5 million by the end of the year on renovations, maintenance, raw materials, labor and initial production at the Burnside refinery.

Major spinoffs from the Ormet announcement already are under way. In June, Impala Warehousing LLC - a business unit of the U.K. logistics firm, Trafigura - bought the Burnside river terminal from Ormet for $28 million. Impala and Trafigura plan to invest $100 million in remodeling and expanding the port facility, making it a key shipping point for coal imports and exports as well as an inbound destination for Ormet bauxite shipments and an outbound terminal for alumina shipments from Burnside to Ormet's Ohio smelter. The Trafigura operation is expected to create another 100 jobs in the Burnside area.

"Restarting the Ormet operations in Ascension Parish really illustrates the value of our business expansion and retention efforts," LED Secretary Stephen Moret said. "This valuable refining operation is being put back into useful service, generating millions of dollars of new economic activity, hundreds of new jobs and -- in a matter of months -- restoring one of the Top 10 economic driver firms in Ascension Parish. That's a tremendous outcome for the Capital Region, and for our whole state."

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