Together Baton Rouge: ExxonMobil project worthy of ITEP

(Photo by Tim Mueller)

Together Baton Rouge joined the chorus of applause following ExxonMobil’s announcement today that Baton Rouge will be the site of a major expansion project, heralding it as an example of “proper ITEP use.”

The expansion at the Baton Rouge polyolefins facility—valued between $500 million and $1 billion and creating 65 permanent jobs, along with 600 construction jobs—received swift approval of its ITEP request in 2018 from the state and local taxing authorities, which Together Baton Rouge leaders noted in a news release.

“The polyolefins expansion is precisely the kind of application of ITEP that we support,” says Dianne Hanley, a leader with Together Baton Rouge and Together Louisiana.

ExxonMobil first indicated Baton Rouge was in the running for the expansion project early last year, and the project won approval for its ITEP request, worth about $31 million over 10 years, later in 2018.

Elected officials, including Mayor Sharon Weston Broome and state Sen. Bodi White, and groups like the Baton Rouge Area Chamber have been issuing congratulatory press releases throughout the day.

Together Baton Rouge—a frequent ITEP critic—did not oppose the tax break for the ExxonMobil expansion project. But the group did lead the charge against two separate ExxonMobil ITEP requests, which the East Baton Rouge school board denied in January, prompting business and industry groups to criticize the local ITEP process as unpredictable and anti-business.

Even while praising ExxonMobil’s announcement today, business groups continued their critiques of ITEP, calling for reforms that they say will create a more streamlined, improved process for companies.

But Together Baton Rouge counters that ITEP reform is already here and, based on today’s ExxonMobil decision, is working just fine.

“This is how real economic development is supposed to work,” says Together Baton Rouge leader Rev. Lee Wesley. “This is ITEP reform.”

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