Prepping the community of Killona for growth is a priority for St. Charles Parish Councilman Terrell Wilson, who is working on getting the infrastructure that could bring highly desired new jobs to the area.
The immediate prospect is AM Agrigen Industries’ planned $1.2 billion fertilizer plant for the area, which Wilson said is a major push behind his efforts to get water and wastewater upgrades for the area.
Overall, the newly re-elected councilman for District 1 is committed to growing an industrial area with about 700 residents.
Economic Development Director Corey Faucheux also foresees Killona’s potential as one of the parish’s future hot spots for growth.
“It’s one of the few areas of the parish with large tracks of vacant land that could be of interest to companies,” Faucheux said. “If you look at the corridor growth between Baton Rouge and New Orleans that does include Killona.”The area does need infrastructure upgrade, including water and wastewater treatment that currently stop at vacant acreage at state Highway 3141.
“Someone will have to make that investment to grow that infrastructure there,” Faucheux said.
Ground was recently broken for a new Killona Community Center, but he said water and wastewater improvements were needed just to serve the building. Although acreage is available for new projects, the infrastructure is not there to service it yet.
But he, like Wilson, hopes the fertilizer plant will serve as the catalyst to jump start the improvements, as well as expansion.
Announced in May of 2014, the fertilizer plant and been undergoing the lengthy permitting process necessary to begin construction.
Faucheux said the project is still on the table, but he added they’ve remained cautiously optimistic about the project since it was announced.
“For such a large project like that, there are so many approvals that are needed and moving parts that have to perfectly align for the project to go to construction,” he said.
Also, AM Agrigen has been working on finalizing the project’s $1.2 billion finance package since last year.“The company has still optioned the rights to the property so they are still in control of the property for a while now, but until they know how to pay for it they’re not going to move on it,” he said.
The proposed fertilizer plant, which has remained in the news since it was announced, would create 150 jobs.In 2014, company officials told parish leaders the plant was on track and expected to finalize the deal within a year.
AM Agrigen CEO Mark Vandervoorde said then the deal wasn’t finalized, but they had applied for all permits necessary to built the plant and were waiting for regulatory response. He added, “There is a commitment that this plant will get built. We still have a number of hurdles to get past before everyone else agrees on it, but we are committed to this process. If we can get through it, we will build the plant.”
At that time, Vandervoorde said there was demand for 12 to 15 million tons of urea in the U.S. with only about six million tons produced domestically. He also discussed the potential to export the fertilizer. AM Agrigen announced plans for a 650-acre site that would create an estimated 150 permanent jobs with an average $55,000 salary.
Even so, Wilson has remained focused on expanding water and wastewater treatment facilities in the area, a move that he is hopeful will help secure the area’s future.