Industrial carbon company to move corporate headquarters to Covington area

An international industrial carbon company will relocate its corporate headquarters from Texas to St. Tammany Parish, a move that will bring 71 high paying jobs and dozens of indirect jobs to the area. Rain CII, which left New Orleans for Texas after Hurricane Katrina, plans to move into a new office building in the Northpark business park south of Covington by late 2014.

Gov. Bobby Jindal, Rain CII President and Chief Executive Officer Gerry Sweeney and a host of St. Tammany Parish officials were on hand for the announcement Wednesday afternoon at the parish government complex near Mandeville.

“This is great news for St. Tammany,” Jindal said. “We are thrilled to have them here.”

The company, which produces calcined petroleum coke, an essential element in making aluminum, already has plants in Chalmette, Norco, Gramercy, Lake Charles and Purvis, Miss. It also has operations in India and China.


Sweeney said the company examined several sites in the New Orleans area before settling on St. Tammany, which was a popular choice among the company’s executives who will relocate to the area. He cited the quality of life in St. Tammany and the fact that the location is relatively safe from hurricanes.

The company headquarters was located on the University of New Orleans campus before Katrina wiped out the building. It moved its operation to Kingwood, near Houston, after the storm and could have chosen to stay there or relocate to another state, officials said.

“Greater New Orleans is the historic home of our company, and a natural location for our headquarters,” Sweeney said. “With four plants in Louisiana, it affords the best blend of proximity to our operations, quality of life for employees, and exposure to the cultural events of a larger city.”

Parish President Pat Brister said St. Tammany’s economy and the business-friendly environment would continue to attract companies like Rain CII to the parish.

“We will continue to grow and become the South’s destination for start-up entrepreneurs and corporate relocations,” Brister said. “Because of our well-educated workforce, family-centric culture and unparalleled lifestyle, we continue to be the perfect platform for companies to launch new enterprises.”

The Rain CII move will create 71 new direct jobs with salaries averaging $102,700 per year, plus benefits. In addition, the project will result in 70 new indirect jobs and the company will also retain 156 existing jobs in Louisiana as a result of the relocation, according to a news release from Jindal’s office.

Of the 71 new direct jobs, 56 will be at the Covington headquarters, with the remaining 15 jobs split between plant operations in Chalmette, Norco, Gramercy and Lake Charles. Some of the new jobs will be filled by existing employees who will be transferred from Texas while others will be new hires, officials said.

Additionally, Rain CII committed to make a capital investment of $65 million over the next five years across its Louisiana manufacturing, research and logistics facilities, according to the release.

“Few projects demonstrate Louisiana’s extraordinary progress and resilience since Hurricane Katrina like this Rain CII relocation project,” Jindal said. “Here is a company that was originally headquartered in the New Orleans area that is returning home – not simply because its roots are here, but because Louisiana now offers an outstanding business climate, a great workforce and a world-class infrastructure for business investment.”

The company plans to occupy about 20,000 square feet of office space in a 40,000 square foot building to be constructed on a three-acre parcel in Northpark, a Class A, master-planned office park on U.S. 190 just north of Interstate 12. The office park is currently undergoing an expansion that will nearly double its size to more than 150 acres. New Orleans-based real estate investment company Ruddigore, LLC, developers of the expansion, will construct the building. The investment company will then enter into a long-term lease with Rain CII, officials said.

Construction will begin in the first quarter of 2014 and formal operations should begin at the headquarters by the end of that year. The company will begin hiring in early 2014.

To secure the project, the state offered Rain CII an incentive package that includes a $3.6 million performance-based grant to offset relocation costs. Rain CII will be eligible for a $2 million Modernization Tax Credit, to be claimed over five years, after making the $65 million plant capital investment.

Both parish and region officials said Rain CII’s decision to return to the New Orleans area could entice other companies to consider a move to St. Tammany.

“Rain CII’s return to Greater New Orleans is a double-win for Louisiana,” said Michael Hecht, president and chief executive officer of Greater New Orleans Inc. “First, it means over 70 high-quality new jobs for the community. But moreover, Rain CII’s return to the region heralds a broader, deeply important trend – the best people and companies are coming home to Greater New Orleans.”

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