Aucoin: Wanhua’s $1.25B complex benefits River Parishes

Published 12:02 am Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Last month, Governor John Bel Edwards and Wanhua Chemical Group Co. executive Weiqi Hua announced the company will develop a $1.25 billion chemical manufacturing complex in the St. James Parish.

The 250-acre manufacturing site with deep-draft river access and available rail service will be developed in Paulina.

The project will create 170 new direct jobs with an average annual salary of more than $80,000, plus benefits. Louisiana Economic Development estimates the project will result in additional 1,060 new indirect jobs, for a total of 1,230 new permanent jobs in the state.

Wanhua will leverage its $1.25 billion capital investment to produce MDI, or methylene diphenyl diisocyanate. MDI is commonly used for polyurethane automotive parts, foams and elastomers, with applications in such consumer areas as appliances, electronics, spray-foam insulation, furniture, textiles and footwear.

Wanhua plans to start construction in 2019, with the project generating 1,000 construction jobs at peak activity. The company anticipates construction will be substantially complete by the end of 2021.

The company’s investment will add to a Louisiana chemical industry that generates $80 billion in annual sales, supports more than 267,000 direct and indirect jobs and benefits from an extensive infrastructure of ports, pipelines, rail and highways.

The Louisiana project represents Wanhua’s commitment to bring manufacturing to the U.S. and to enable the company to better serve customers in the Americas. The Louisiana facility will be a major component of Wanhua’s global development of MDI. In addition to China, Wanhua maintains major manufacturing operations in Hungary.

Wanhua is a publicly traded corporation listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange. Wanhua boosted its presence in the U.S. by establishing a business development office in the greater Philadelphia area in 2006. That office generates approximately $500 million in annual revenue.

Wanhua established its U.S. headquarters in Houston in 2014, with additional research and development offices opening a year later. The company established its manufacturing entity – Wanhua Chemical U.S. Operations LLC – in Louisiana in 2016. The company’s U.S. subsidiaries employ over 60 in Louisiana, Texas and Pennsylvania.

Louisiana offers world-class manufacturing sites, the most productive manufacturing workforce in the U.S., and LED FastStart, the nation’s top state workforce training program. Our infrastructure assets enable us to compete for the leading economic development projects in the world.

The state’s assets plus diligent work by leaders from Louisiana Economic Development, St. James Parish, GNO, Inc., and the Port of South Louisiana spelled success for the region by attracting Wanhua to locate to the River Region.

It was truly a five-year long team effort and we will continue to assist in any way we can. In that event, we are happy to welcome Wanhua into our port district and we look forward to a long and prosperous relationship.

Paul Aucoin is executive director of the Port of South Louisiana. For more information, call 985-652-9278.