CALCASIEU PARISH, LA (KPLC) - It's a disappointment, admit local business and government leaders-- but they say Sasol's decision to abandon the gas-to-liquids mega project is not the end of the world.
Local leaders remain optimistic about the economy.
It was 2011 the prospect of the gas to liquids mega project was announced by then Governor Bobby Jindal.
We're here today to make an announcement that could end up, could result in Louisiana's largest economic development project and both local governmental and business leaders would like to have seen it-- but Calcasieu Parish Administrator Bryan Beam admits-- they've known for a while it might not happen.
"Loren Scott, an economist who comes along every year with his two year forecast, projects the Lake Charles area which includes Calcasieu and Cameron, to be the fastest growing area of the state for the next two years. He was not including the GTL plant because he knew that was iffy. There are so many projects still pending," said Beam.
He and R.B. Smith, Vice President for Business and Workforce Development with the SWLA Economic Development Alliance agree that the area remains an an enviable position as far as economic development.
"We still have on the books with what's being built and what's been announced, still over $100 billion worth of projects which is still far and away the most in industrial development in the nation," said Smith.
And while Sasol has changed its investment strategy the $11 billion ethane project still underway is expected to continue to enable growth for decades...
"We still know that Sasol is heavily committed with the projects they have, the fact that they have research and development right here in our community, the fact that there's a future out there. more specialty chemicals very likely could develop that come off the ethane cracker. This may mean additional projects. It may not mean $11 billion, but there will be in the hundreds of million of dollars," he said.
Officials with the alliance say there's $45 billion in industrial construction within the five parish area, with more than $60 billion dollars in projects pending.
The Go group is going away, but Beam says that's not because of the Sasol announcement. He says the Go Group fulfilled its purpose to plan for major growth. That is, he says it has run its course and that, where needed, parts of it are being integrated into various parish departments or agencies.