Crossroads business leaders say they have much to be thankful for in 2018, including Formosa’s $5 billion expansion, Invista’s announcement to invest $200 million in plant modernization and the nearing completion of the Agilon power plants.
“I wanted to talk about a lot of the things from an economic development, community development perspective that have happened in our community over 2018; there have been some,” Dale Fowler, Victoria Economic Development Corp. president, said at the Dec. 18 VEDC partnership meeting.
Ryan Castleman, chief operating officer of Agilon Energy, announced at the VEDC semi-annual meeting in May he planned to invest up to $120 million into Victoria County to build two electric power plants.
The two plants will be powered by natural gas and designed to operate and provide power during peak demand, specifically during hot summer and cold winter days, Castleman said.
The plants are located near Willow and Senecio streets in Victoria and at the Port of Victoria. The plant at the port is planned to be operational before the end of the first quarter of 2019. Remaining work includes connecting to American Electric Power’s system, he said. The plant on Willow Street is about four to six weeks behind the one at the port.
Castleman is investing less than $120 million for the construction of the two plants but didn’t want to disclose the actual amount for competitive reasons. The company will be one of the top five taxpayers in Victoria County once the plants are running, Fowler said.
Agilon Energy did not receive any incentives or a tax abatement to come to Victoria.
“The sites were good locations between all of the wind power in Texas and the major loads in Texas on the Gulf Coast,” Castleman said. “The Victoria community, with the Victoria Economic Development Corp., was very supportive.”
Officials with Invista, a petrochemical manufacturer in Victoria County, announced in the summer they are continuing with a $250 million project to upgrade technology and increase production of adiponitrile, a key ingredient for nylon 6.6 fibers and plastics.
Construction of the project is planned to begin in the first quarter of this year. Victoria County commissioners approved a tax abatement for the project Dec. 17. The abatement states the company is investing $200 million, and Invista will commit to create at least 300 construction jobs at the peak of the project’s construction phase. The improved plant will provide about 65 local full-time employment positions.
“(This project) will increase their capacity of product that they sell on the market and will help keep them competitive and more profitable,” Fowler said.
The 10-year tax abatement agreement promises a 50 percent abatement on the property taxes the company will pay for its adiponitrile unit.
The new technology developed and in use at the Invista facility in Orange brings improved product yields, reduced energy consumption, lower greenhouse gas emissions, enhanced process stability and reduced capital intensity compared to existing technologies.
The $5 billion expansion at the Formosa site in Point Comfort that started about four years ago is on track to be completed in the later half of 2020, said Steve Marwitz, plant communications director.
“We’re all excited about the completion of the new project,” Marwitz said.
The expansion has employed up to 4,500 construction workers, Marwitz said at the partnership meeting.
The expansion will add about 140 permanent jobs to Jackson County and 200 to Calhoun County.
Company officials bought land in 2016 in Jackson County for the expansion. The project will add about 800 acres to the plant, bringing its total size to 2,300 acres.
Jackson County officials approved a six-year abatement in 2015. Between 2016 and 2021, instead of paying regular taxes, Formosa will pay the county $2.3 million.
The expansion will broaden the company’s plastic resins product line and increase overall productivity. The project will add low-density polyethylene resins to increase the product mix and improve customer end-use options.
This type of resin is different from high-density polyethylene, which the company already produces. Low-density polyethylene has less malleable strength but greater ductility than its cousin. It is used to make toys, films and cable insulation.
Calhoun County commissioners also approved a tax abatement with Formosa on Dec. 19 for a project that would create an estimated 20 full-time jobs.
Formosa plans to invest about $300 million into a project to build a Propane Dehydrogenation Unit, according to the agreement. Construction of the project is planned to begin in 2020 and be completed in 2022. The abatement will exempt Formosa from paying any property taxes on the project from 2020 until 2029.
Marwitz declined to comment on the abatement.
“The expansion projects of all petrochemical projects in the region are really drivers in the local economy, from construction workers coming in to do the work as well as the securing of the long-term jobs in the petrochemical plants,” Fowler said. “In many cases, it’s those manufacturing jobs in the region that drive all the other sectors.”