By Scott Baltic, Contributing Editor
Wanhua Chemical Group will develop a $1.12 billion chemical-manufacturing complex in Louisiana, with the selection of a specific site to occur later this year, the company announced Monday. The plant is intended to produce methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI).
Immediate access to supplies of natural gas and other feedstocks, and deepwater transportation via the Mississippi River, were among the factors that drew Wanhua to Louisiana.
“Wanhua Chemical carefully executed its long-term MDI strategy and selected Louisiana as the best place in the world for its investment in this fast-growing category of chemicals,” Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Don Pierson said in a prepared statement.
The Wanhua project reportedly will be the second-largest direct investment in Louisiana by a Chinese company, after a $1.85 billion methanol complex under development by Yuhuang Chemical in St. James Parish.
The plant will create 170 new direct jobs with an average annual salary of $70,440, plus benefits, per the state. LED estimates the project will result in a further 945 new indirect jobs.
Wanhua Chemical has completed extensive site evaluations in Louisiana and is expected to announce its final site choice in the coming months. The company reportedly considered many industrial site options, including locations in Texas, before committing to Louisiana.
LED began discussing the project with Wanhua in December 2013, after which the State of Louisiana offered the company an incentive package that includes a state workforce development program, a performance-based grant of $4.3 million to offset site infrastructure costs, and access the state’s Industrial Tax Exemption program.
An intermediate chemical, MDI is commonly used for polyurethane foams and elastomers, with applications in such consumer areas as appliances, electronics, furniture, textiles and footwear and in industrial applications such as the development of rollers, packing, vibration insulators and synthetic leather.
Wanhua Chemical is a publicly traded corporation and is listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange.