Industrial prospects look at defunct LAEL facility

Published 12:10 am Friday, March 24, 2017


VIDALIA — Vidalia officials say several entities have interest in a building that once housed the now-defunct Louisiana Elastomer tire recycler.

Concordia Parish Economic Development Executive Director Heather Malone said various parties have expressed interest in the facility, but said she would not have much information until after a Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office assets sell, which is scheduled for March 29.

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Vidalia Mayor Buz Craft said at least one of the interested parties would be doing something similar to the type of operation Louisiana Elastomer once did.

The plant used a special process to recycle tires that starts with separating the different types of rubber in a tire rather than grinding the entire tire.

“It’s a good idea,” Craft said. “It just has to be managed right.”

Craft said he could not name the prospect he has spoken to at this time.

The talks at this time are on the ground floor, Craft said.

“Hopefully we would be able to get the jobs that were originally promised,” Craft said. “There is a lot of work to be done, but I believe there is something that can be done. I believe that in my heart.

“We have some positive momentum and we want to keep it going. We certainly want to support our businesses and encourage people to come here and live with us — enjoy the community as we have.”

The interest in the facility follows the recent announcement of “Project Blue,” a development interested in the Fruit of the Loom building, which is set to become vacant at the end of the month.

Vidalia officials are hopeful about making an announcement in April about a manufacturing company expected to employee a minimum of 300 people at an annual payroll of $9.2 million.

The town is also suing Louisiana Elastomer, seeking $700,00 reportedly owed to the Louisiana Department of Environment Quality.

The town is seeking payment for grant funds Vidalia was forced to repay to the state after Louisiana Elastomer failed twice to meet requirements set for the funding.

The town partnered with the company to receive a $700,000 grant to help pay for construction of the plant, which opened in 2009. Louisiana Elastomer was to use at least one-third of Louisiana waste tire program eligible tires in its operations and at least 1 million program eligible waste tires after the second year of operation.

In 2013, the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality terminated the grant, and the $700,000 in grant funds was to be repaid.

Since Jan. 1, 2015, the town has been repaying grant funds to the Louisiana Department of Environment Quality. The town has been making monthly payments of $15,555.

The lawsuit also seeks to require Louisiana Elastomer to repay the remaining grant funds to the department of environmental quality.

Craft said Thursday, “If we can get the money back, we will be very fortunate.”