BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -- Efforts to lure two large manufacturing plants that would create more than 700 jobs in south Louisiana received a boost Thursday when a state panel agreed to offer special, lower-cost financing.
A plastics manufacturing facility sought for Iberville Parish and a pulp and paper plant proposed for West Feliciana Parish were granted State Bond Commission approval to use Gulf Opportunity Zone bonds to help cover their costs.
GO Zone bonds are a cheap form of borrowing with lower interest rates that were granted to Louisiana by Congress for areas impacted by hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. The borrowing capacity is capped, and the Bond Commission determines who gets the GO Zone bond designation.
Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret said the GO Zone financing was critical to wooing the plants, but he cautioned neither deal was completed.
The $350 million plastics plant would be built by SNF Inc. and would create 512 new permanent jobs for Iberville Parish, near Baton Rouge. Average salaries would top $57,000, according to Moret. The project would use $150 million in GO Zone bonds for construction.
Moret said Louisiana was competing with another Southern state for the plant and still needed to work out right-of-way problems with another company in the same area as part of any deal.
In nearby West Feliciana Parish, St. Francisville Acquisition LLC would spend $150 million to renovate and reopen a shuttered pulp and paper plant. Canadian paper maker Tembec Inc. closed the mill in June 2007, putting 540 employees out of work.
Moret said the reopened plant would bring 200 permanent jobs initially and that would grow to 375 within four years. The project would use $100 million in GO Zone bonds.
"It is not a done deal yet, but it looks very, very promising," Moret said.
Both projects would get other state tax breaks and incentives, but those deals still were under negotiation, Moret said.