Leaders in Ascension Parish are on notice following the closure of the Shell refinery in Convent

Updated: Nov. 10, 2020 at 9:22 PM CST
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ASCENSION PARISH, La. (WAFB) - Leaders in Ascension Parish are on notice following the closure of the Shell refinery in Convent.

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Ascension Parish isn’t being hit as hard as St. James Parish economically speaking, but there’s a worry the industry that keeps the parish’s economy and its people ticking isn’t as secure as it once was. Now, officials are trying to shore up the refineries that dot the parish to ensure there’s not a domino effect.

“Our initial focus is how to get the chemical industry to invest more in Ascension Parish because these plants are important to headquarters and when they go to decommission things, we’re the last one on the list,” said John Diez, chief administrative officer for Ascension Parish.

Shoring up efforts to invest in the plants that dot the parish means creating an economic environment that’s friendly to the industry through tax breaks and keeping a skilled workforce readily available.

“The more investments that we can encourage for BASF and those guys to make in the next couple years the less likely that in a bad economic downturn that they decommission these plants,” Diez said.

The plants employ approximately 4,000 in the parish, providing millions in payroll and even more toward the parish budget.

“The chemical industry in Ascension Parish, it’s almost half of our budget, half the school board’s budget, half the sheriff’s department’s budget, so every teacher you see, the chemicals pay for about half of that salary, every police officer pays for about half of that salary,” he said

It’s important to note, no other plants have signaled they’re closing at this time.

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