Barge plant coming to Madison Parish

Published 11:20 pm Monday, August 29, 2011

TALLULAH, La. (AP) — A Louisiana barge manufacturer will open a facility at the Madison Parish Port that will eventually employ more than 400 people, state officials said Monday.

St. John Enterprises Inc. announced the company’s plans to create more than 450 jobs in the next five years.

“Our mission is to create careers — long-term careers for families,” said Ron Lewis, the company’s chief executive officer. “We’re creating careers, we’re putting the American workforce back to work in our heartland, and the recovery for America starts here.”

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Gov. Bobby Jindal joined with Lewis for the announcement at the port. He said St. John will invest $32 million to upgrade the facility.

“This announcement is another sign that we are competing with states across the country for business investment — and winning,” Jindal said. “Our focus on job creation and business development has made our state one of the best places in the world for businesses to grow and succeed.”

St. John Enterprises will take over the facility that had been occupied by shipbuilder Northrop Grumman, which has been idle since last fall when it left the plant and eliminated 95 jobs.

St. John plans to hire 104 people in its first year, with production starting by late October, and to increase employment to 454 by 2016. Average annual play will exceed $40,000, plus benefits, state officials said.

St. John expects to produce its first six barges by the end of the year. Construction to upgrade the port facility will begin Sept. 15, the same day the company expects to begin hiring employees.

Lewis said the previous Northrop Grumman workforce, the location of the port on the Mississippi River, rail service and access to Interstates 20 and 55 all played key roles in selecting the site for their expansion.

To secure the project, the state offered an incentive package that included a $1.4 million performance-based grant to be paid in annual installments over the next 10 years if the company meets yearly job and payroll targets.


Information from: The News-Star,