Gov. Bobby Jindal and AgraTech International Inc. Chairman Richard DeMarco announced this week that the company will renovate the former Yoo-Hoo chocolate drink bottling plant in Opelousas into a manufacturing facility that will create 50 direct jobs over a five-year period. The biotech venture, a $10 million capital investment, will convert seafood shell waste into commercial products for the automotive, defense and medical sectors. The direct jobs will pay an average salary of $50,000, plus benefits, and Louisiana Economic Development estimates the project will result in an additional 51 indirect jobs.
Raw shrimp, crawfish and crab shells will be converted into chitosan for products ranging from water-repellant coatings on windshields to enhanced sunscreen lotions, nasal sprays to treat nosebleeds, and dental membranes for implant surgery. In addition to a 37,500-square-foot facility in Opelousas, AgraTech International said it will establish a research partnership with UL Lafayette.
"The new facility will mill shrimp, crawfish and crab shells — waste that previously had to be discarded and added an additional cost to Louisiana’s seafood industry," Jindal said in a press release announcing the project. "AgraTech could have invested in other states but chose Louisiana because of our strong business climate, incomparable workforce and our world-class seafood industry. The bottom line is that Agratech’s decision to invest here is not only good news for our economy and our workers, but also our seafood industry and for our higher education community.”
Based in New Jersey, AgraTech International secured a long-term lease on space at the former drink bottling plant that closed three years ago. The site places the company within close reach of a 100 million-pound annual supply of crustacean waste. AgraTech also will conduct research activity at UL's College of Engineering, where the company will provide instruction and research assistance to students and faculty in exchange for lab space.
“Chitosan production is a totally green endeavor: It is a natural, renewable, nontoxic and nonhazardous, biodegradable product,” said DeMarco, who’s also president and CEO of AgraTech International. “AgraTech will be the sole domestic commercial supplier of high-quality chitosan. From our Opelousas location, the company intends to remain in the vanguard of chitosan research, developing new chitosan-based products.”
In addition to medical applications, AgraTech will manufacture — and license the technology to produce — a chitosan-based, water-repellant coating permanently bonded to glass. Water-barrier applications in the automotive, construction, defense and optics sectors hold significant potential in what the company estimates is a more than $36 billion market. AgraTech and UL are negotiating a research partnership agreement to enhance market applications for the company and research opportunities for the campus.
“The university is always seeking innovative partnerships to enhance the economic diversity and development of the state,” UL President Joe Savoie said in the press release. “The scientific work conducted by AgraTech complements research by our faculty. Arrangements such as this are beneficial for business, the university, the region and the state. When companies such as AgraTech have a campus presence, it enhances our ability to engage undergraduates, as well as graduate students, in the types of research that will lead to the creation of more jobs and further economic opportunities.”
Acadiana Economic Development and the St. Landry Economic Industrial Development District helped recruit AgraTech International to the Acadiana Region, and the company is expected to utilize Louisiana’s R&D Tax Credit, Enterprise Zone and Industrial Tax Exemption incentives.
Renovation and equipping of the facility will begin in early 2013, with commercial operations planned by the end of the second quarter 2013. AgraTech will hire 10 people in its first year and increase its staff to 50 employees within five years.
Local developer’s Lake Charles Gardens LLC purchases buildings and leases; land still owned by Dugas family.
Economist Loren Scott says Louisiana is in the midst of an industrial boom unlike any other in its history, with more than $100 billion in industrial projects either under construction or in the engineering and design phase.
The Louisiana Treasury holds $18 million in Israel Bonds — bonds that earn 2.868 percent when the three-year U.S. Treasury is yielding 1.08 percent.
ABiz celebrates another class of Acadiana's most influential female trailblazers, the Lourdes Foundation honors a local philanthropist and MedExpress in Opelousas celebrates its 22nd year as the “little ambulance service that could.”
Is Louisiana’s O&G industry ready to head south of the border?
Downtown’s newest live-work space for creatives doubles as a gallery for other upcoming artists to show their work.
A maritime case originating in Lafayette federal court could become a game changer for the oil and gas industry.
Here’s what’s at stake in the November Senate race — regardless of whether Republicans gain control of the upper chamber.
From the publisher’s in-box: ABiz reaches out to Lake Charles, time to “Come Home, Louisiana,” and now accepting nominations for Entrepreneur of the Year.
In late September Cleco and UL Lafayette showed off the Cleco Alternative Energy Center, where researchers explore ways to generate power by using renewable resources.
The most recent promotions, hirings and announcements from Acadiana's biz community.
While Amendments 1 and 2 will shield some health care providers from the budgetary whims of Gov. Jindal, they could make higher ed even more vulnerable to cuts.
Age 60 looks good on the country’s second-largest oil and gas show.
Local pieces and logo-emblazoned corporate gifts
Let’s show how much we care what it looks like.
The Memphis based investment firm Wunderlich recently arrived in Louisiana with the opening of a wealth management branch in Lafayette.
Broussard will soon be the site of a new Courtesy Automotive dealership.
Event addresses the industry’s growing need for qualified employees by providing an industry specific networking event.
Attorney General Buddy Caldwell’s office announced Thursday that AT&T Mobility has agreed to a $105 million settlement with Louisiana and the other 49 states over allegations that the company added third-party charges to AT&T customers’ bills without their consent or knowledge.
Investors aren’t enthusiastic about parent company Gannett’s spinoff plan, and that’s bad news for employees.
Lafayette Consolidated Government was the victor at the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal in a suit brought against it by a billboard company that argued new(ish) zoning regulations prevented it from making good on a contract.
The state labor department figures released Friday show the initial claims increased to 2,081 from the previous week's total of 1,887. For the comparable week a year earlier, there were 2,456.
The U.S. rig count peaked at 4,530 in 1981 and bottomed at 488 in 1999.
The U.S. Attorney in New Orleans says a Slidell man has pleaded guilty to fraud in connection with a claim he filed related to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico BP oil spill.
Lawmakers and business leaders are pressing Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration to pledge the financing needed to keep open a 25-year-old program that helps small businesses apply for government contracts.