Can We Talk About ExxonMobil’s Half Billion-Dollar Baton Rouge Expansion Plans?

I think it might be a good idea to review what actually happened when ExxonMobil made the announcement last week that it was expanding its polyolefins plant in Baton Rouge, spending more than half a billion dollars, creating 45 permanent jobs, 20 permanent contractor jobs and support 600 temporary construction workers. This was hailed as evidence that ExxonMobil isn’t going anywhere, and efforts by left-wing loons like the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wannabes at Together Baton Rouge to deny ExxonMobil tax breaks through the ITEP program don’t negatively affect Louisiana’s business climate.

That ain’t the case, and it’s important for people to understand it ain’t the case.

The thing to remember about last week’s announcement is that it came at the end of a process which included approvals of ITEP tax incentives by three separate local entities in Baton Rouge – the sheriff, the school board and the Metro Council – LAST YEAR. An Advocate article from August 29, 2018

ExxonMobil on Wednesday won approval for a multimillion-dollar property tax break on a potential Baton Rouge plant expansion the company said is worth between $500 million and $1 billion.

The state Board of Commerce and Industry gave its approval, with the backing of Gov. John Bel Edwards.

Economic development officials said the approval was the next step in landing the project in Baton Rouge. Exxon said it will make a final decision later this year on whether to put the project — a major expansion of its polypropylene operations — at its polyolefins complex on Scenic Highway in north Baton Rouge.

The oil and gas giant said the project would be the largest investment in Baton Rouge since 2010, when it spent $800 million adding an ultra low-sulphur diesel unit to its refinery.

Exxon’s Industrial Tax Exemption request now goes to the East Baton Rouge School Board, Metro Council and Sheriff for approval. Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome, like Edwards, signed a letter in support of the project.

The polyolefins plant expansion is the first, and largest, of four projects approved under the state’s new rules for ITEP, which were enacted this summer. If approved, the project would receive an 80 percent property tax abatement — down from 100 percent previously — over 10 years, instead of eight. ITEP is designed to give manufacturers a break on their property taxes on new capital expenditures.



At the time Together Baton Rouge didn’t fight the ITEP application for the polypropylene line, but demanded ExxonMobil pull ITEP applications for other projects they’d already completed which had been in the pipeline when Edwards changed the state’s process to bring in local approval. When ExxonMobil brushed off those demands, that’s when TBR decided to go to war.

And what that means is last week’s announcement doesn’t change the shaky future trajectory of ExxonMobil’s presence in Baton Rouge. It’s still very much in doubt if the company doesn’t think Louisiana and Baton Rouge provide a competitive business climate to Texas and our other neighbors.

Nobody else seems interested in pointing out that last week’s announcement is what you get when people are willing to work with business to grow an economy – not what you get regardless of how hostile you might be.

So I guess it falls to us to point that out. Happy to help.

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