Louisiana has long been a center of refining and petrochemical manufacturing in the United States. But with new domestic production of cheaper oil and natural gas, the state is seeing dramatic capital investment from global companies.
Thanks to dropping manufacturing costs and low cost natural gas, manufacturers are eyeing the Louisiana coast for new investment in manufacturing and refining. The state now holds the record for attracting the largest foreign investment; $65 billion by Sasol to build two new plants in Southwest Louisiana. With more than $100 billion in planned manufacturing investment in the coming 10 years, the state is scrambling to bolster its workforce, build infrastructure and attract talent.
Southwest Louisiana is no stranger to the energy and petrochemical industry. Situated along the Gulf Coast, the region is home to many of the nation’s petroleum refineries, chemical manufacturing plants, and logistical hubs. And thanks to the domestic energy boom, the region is attracting even more of them
In the area around the small town of Lake Charles, nearly $65 billion in investments are planned in the next few years. One company is building two new plants that at $14 billion, represent the largest foreign investment in U.S. history.
Why now? The answer is abundant domestically produced natural gas. The resource makes it attractive for companies like Sasol to locate new facilities in the U.S. where once they would have looked to other less developed nations.
The investment in Lake Charles is so large in fact, that several groups and local officials are working nonstop to identify and train employees to staff the new factories. In addition to construction jobs during the building phase of the project, the industry needs to find and train highly skilled employees to staff the facilities when they are up and running. Finding and training so many people presents a challenge to the small community, but its one they embrace.
The benefits are just too good to ignore.