Remember that $36 million help the Mississippi legislature gave earlier this year to Edison Chouest? It appears the company played a similar game in Louisiana using the same tactics: promise jobs, promise investment, or promise the world and watch the politicians fall all over themselves as they rush to dole out the dough. Unfortunately for Louisiana and the working people who pay the bills, this friendly bout of crony capitalism has not worked out too well. Fox 8 (NOLA) reported Friday:
In 2008, the state of Louisiana signed an agreement with LaShip LLC, a subsidiary of Edison Chouest Offshore. In that agreement, LaShip committed to hiring 1,000 new employees for new positions, with a total payroll of $54 million. The positions and payroll had to be sustained for 42 months, from September 2012 until the end of 2015.
But in August 2012, the state amended that agreement, giving LaShip more time to meet their job guarantees. They moved the start date from September 2012 to March 2014, the end date to June 2017. In return the state invested $42 million in the shipbuilding facility.
According to Chouest's website, "LaShip is an ultra-modern facility and is now the largest shipyard in the Chouest family of companies."
The state handed over the money. But LaShip has underperformed on the job commitments; they are not fulfilling the contract right now.
"They are out of compliance with the contract," confirms Don Pierson, Gov. John Bel Edwards' pick to lead the state's Department of Economic Development.
LaShip likely wanted to amend that original agreement because of low job numbers. In March 2012, when those job guarantees were supposed to begin, LaShip had half the committed amount: 507 of the 1,000 jobs promised. That initial contract should have expired at the end of last year; if the company hadn't signed an extension, they would have fallen below that 1,000 job benchmark in 24 of the 42 months. The amendment created a new timetable.
But the jobs still aren't there. In the first quarter of 2016, LaShip had just 232 jobs. Again, they promised 1,000....
But there's more. Remember, LaShip is a subsidiary of Edison Chouest. Edison Chouest is also a parent to North American Fabricators, another shipbuilding company. North American Fabricators' facility is closed. The company isn't even referenced on the Chouest website.
Even though LaShip promised the state new jobs, it doesn't appear that it actually happened. The state admits Edison Chouest simply transferred the workers from their shuttered company to the new one - and got a large incentive package for it. Rest of the article and video.
Anita Lee reported in the Sun-Herald last March that Edison Chouest was laying off employees at one plant while it got $36 million for a sister plant:
While state officials announced with much fanfare a deal that is supposed to create 1,000 jobs on the Coast at a new company, Topship, they've been mum about layoffs at a sister company, Gulf Ship.
I'm trying to find out just how many people Gulf Ship employs and just how many have been recently laid off. If you have been laid off recently by Gulf Ship, or know of someone who has, I'd love to hear from you. You can email me at email@example.com.
Gulf Ship employed about 600 workers when the oil industry was booming, but was down to 300 employees a few months back, according to Bill Hessell, executive director of the Harrison County Development Commission. Hessell said he hasn't checked Gulf Ship's employment figures lately.
Both Topship and Gulf Ship, which opened in Gulfport in 2006, are subsidiaries of Edison Chouest Offshore. ECO was founded in 1960 in the little town of Galliano, La., and is today a major player in the global transportation industry.
Gulf Ship builds supply boats for the oil industry. Topship also plans to build vessels for the oil industry. CEO Gary Chouest said specific plans for Topship manufacturing are still being finalized...
Gulf Ship gets a tax break from the county. Topship is receiving a bundle of tax incentives, breaks and government funding – $11 million from the state, $25 million of the port's federal funds for Katrina relief.
I sent a list of questions about Topship and Gulf Ship to the deal's broker, the Mississippi Development Authority, on Wednesday. Still waiting to hear back. Rest of post
Beef Plant, Kior, Twin Creeks, Stion.......