City Grill

David HelvestonDavid Helveston
ABC Pelican Chapter

This year will be stable for Baton Rouge’s construction and engineering community, and 2019 could be great, Helveston says.

Formosa Petrochemical Corp. recently announced that a $9.4-billion chemical manufacturing complex near Baton Rouge could begin construction as soon as next year. The project would employ nearly 8,000 construction workers over four years, he says.

Other notable projects include two new hospitals: the $129-million Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital and the $100-plus-million Ochsner Medical Center – High Grove project.

A focal point for the community is Louisiana’s Industrial Tax Exemption Program (ITEP). Two years ago, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards overhauled the 86-year-old program, but it has created uncertainty for manufacturers’ analyses of large capital projects, Helveston says. ExxonMobil, for example, is monitoring the issue as it considers expanding its Baton Rouge facilities.

“We’re hopeful the ITEP issues will be resolved soon and that we’ll hear a few major industrial construction announcements in the near future,” he says.