(WAFB) - A chemical plant that's been around for decades has expanded and brought new jobs to the area.
"At 61-years-old, the future never looked so bright," said Eduardo Do Val, site director of Dow Louisiana Operations.
The Dow Chemical Company sits on the Iberville and West Baton Rouge Parish line. Both parish presidents say this plant is crucial to helping their communities thrive. "A lot what we have in this parish, community centers, civic centers, roads, and bridges, it's because of the chemical industry here," said Iberville Parish President Mitchell Ourso.
Both parish presidents say the company has been a fixture in their parishes for decades, and to top it off, they're the biggest employer and taxpayer in Iberville Parish as well. West Baton Rouge Parish President Riley Berthelot says he thinks most of the people in the community are employed by Dow.
That relationship with the community grew stronger Friday. Dow held a ribbon-cutting ceremony commemorating the beginning of the company's $2 billion expansion, which includes the addition of a new production line to make next-generation synthetic rubber and high-performance polyethylene. The company also added a 1 million square foot warehouse and a good number of new jobs.
"I would guess right now we've got around 100 to 200 employees to support all of these facilities and all of this growth," said Jim Fitterling, president, and COO. "They're already on site, so they've been trained."
In case you're wondering how this plant expansion affects everyday life, outside of jobs and tax revenue, Fitterling says just look at most products we come into contact with on a daily basis, like the soles of running shoes or plastic bags. "If you go to the grocery store to buy packaged food and maybe you need to buy a baby diaper and personal care products, chances are that it's got a lot of content that came from one of our facilities here," Fitterling explained.
Fitterling says by the end of the year, these facilities will start producing plastic and shipping about 30 percent of the products manufactured around the world.
U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy says Dow has provided thousands of jobs in the area and that continued relationship is what creates the American dream. "When we say jobs, there's some family that is more prosperous, whose kids go to better schools," he said. "Future generations will be better off because of an investment like this."
Gov. John Bel Edwards highlighted the dedication of $2 billion in new chemical manufacturing investments by The Dow Chemical Company in Louisiana.
"In providing great livelihoods for thousands of Louisiana families, Dow's operations pump more than $1 billion into the state's economy each year through payrolls, taxes, business purchases, and community contributions," Gov. Edwards said. "That's vital to our economy, and it's just as vital that Louisiana industrial leaders remain competitive in the global economy. These new investments by Dow are modernizing Louisiana manufacturing sites to be the most competitive, efficient and productive operations in the world, all of which ensures a bright future for our workforce and our economy."
Dow initially broke ground in Louisiana in August of 1956. The company says Louisiana Operations is Dow's largest plant in the state and one of the largest petrochemical facilities in Louisiana.