Business bringing 25 jobs to Vidalia

Published 12:01 am Tuesday, May 1, 2018

VIDALIA — An Australia company has selected Vidalia for a $25 million project that could bring more than 50 jobs to the Miss-Lou.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards and Melbourne, Australia, company Syrah Resources announced Monday the selection of a Vidalia site for a graphite processing facility.

The new project will create 25 new direct jobs with an average salary of $60,000. Louisiana Economic Development estimates the project also will result in the creation of 30 new indirect jobs.

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“Syrah Resources is the latest international company to find that Louisiana is a great place for business investment,” Edwards said.

Area economic development forces had been working to bring Syrah to the Miss-Lou over the last six or seven months, said Chandler Russ, Natchez Inc. executive director. Natchez Inc. and the Town of Vidalia partner together on economic recruitment.

“As a region, we’re excited about it,” Russ said. “What’s good for Vidalia is good for Natchez, and vice versa.”

Officials expect operations to begin by the end of this year.

The Concordia Parish plant will produce graphite anode materials for batteries in electric vehicles and other products. Syrah plans to house its operations in the parish’s former rubber recycling plant, a 50,000 square-foot industrial building located near the Vidalia Port. The building could be expanded if the company develops additional phases.

“Syrah originally identified Louisiana as a preferred location, due to a strong manufacturing and experienced employment base, attractive utility and raw material supply opportunities, an extensive logistics network, and most importantly a focus on development from government and community,” Syrah CEO Shaun Verner said. “All of these elements have been clearly demonstrated in the interactions we have had in Vidalia, and we are very positive about the long-term benefit of locating here.”

Having an available building that would cover the company’s needs, Russ said, played a pivotal role in attracting the company, which was also exploring other areas of Louisiana for its new location.

Just as important, he said, was the agreement by local governing bodies in Concordia Parish to authorize a tax incentive for Syrah if the company decided to bring its business to Vidalia. 

Syrah was granted a 100-percent tax exemption for the first five years in operation and an 80-percent exemption for the following three years after unanimous votes last week by the Concordia Parish Police Jury, the Vidalia Board of Aldermen and the Concordia Parish School District in an effort to bring the company to the Miss-Lou.

The lost taxes over those years should amount to approximately $1.5 million, which officials have said is well worth the potential $50 million return the company could bring to the area.

“The parish, the town and the school district — that unanimous support was paramount toward the project,” Russ said.

Syrah Resources mines and produces natural flake graphite in Mozambique and plans to ship the material to Louisiana for further processing. At the Concordia Parish facility, Syrah would refine the material into high-purity spherical graphite for use in battery anodes, with a focus on customers in the automotive industry.

“The Town (of Vidalia) and the State of Louisiana, have made significant investments into our industrial parks and port facility, and today we see the benefits of that investment through the creation of 25 new quality jobs with competitive wages,” Vidalia Mayor Buz Craft said.

Syrah is expected to begin its hiring process in the near future.