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Virdia Inc. Plans $60 Million Biochemical Processing Facility In Raceland, Louisiana

Virdia Inc. plans to make a $60 million capital investment to build Lafourche Parish biochemical processing facilities that will convert sugar cane bagasse into high-value industrial sugars and biofuels. The processing plants will be installed beside the Raceland Raw Sugar Corp. mill in Raceland, Louisiana, where Virdia has secured an agreement to use 80,000 tons per year of the mill’s bagasse, or sugar cane waste.

Virdia Inc., a United States based company, is fully owned and was recently acquired by Stora Enso Oyj, a $14 billion-per-year forestry products company headquartered in Finland, with operations worldwide. The acquisition supports the vision of Stora Enso’s Biomaterials Division in becoming a significant player in biochemicals and biomaterials. The technology enables more efficient extraction of biomass, allowing the possibility to develop and commercialize cost-effective renewable solutions to address well-identified, market-driven needs. The company will begin hiring in 2015, with expected completion of the $60 million project in Raceland by the end of 2016. The project will create 81 direct jobs.

“We chose Louisiana due to the accessibility of a nonfood-competing, sustainable raw material – sugar cane bagasse – which will enable us to validate the technology and develop further the applications and possibilities offered by this technology,” said Managing Director Otavio Pontes of Virdia Inc. “In addition, the support that Raceland Raw Sugar and the Louisiana Economic Development agency is giving in making available a site that offers necessary other resources and infrastructure was also a significant factor. This investment in Louisiana is the logical next step for the industrial validation of the newly acquired extraction and separation technology.”

Governor Bobby Jindal said, “Virdia represents the success that Louisiana’s agriculture industry is experiencing as our economy continues to grow. Virdia is creating quality new jobs by developing new methods for making sugar cane products that will continue to help support our farmers. We’re proud that Virdia recognized the tremendous value of Louisiana’s sugar cane resources and that the company will be advancing important new manufacturing methods for its products right here in our state. This project will be a boon for our farmers and refiners in the sugar industry, and it also will create great jobs for our families in Louisiana – where today we have more people working than ever before.”

LED began discussing a potential project in Louisiana with the company in August 2012. To secure the project, the State of Louisiana offered Virdia a competitive incentive package that includes a performance-based, $1 million Economic Development Award Program grant to offset infrastructure costs. Virdia will receive the comprehensive solutions of LED FastStart. The company also is expected to utilize the state’s Industrial Tax Exemption Program.

“We are pleased to welcome Virdia Inc. to Lafourche Parish,” Lafourche Parish President Charlotte Randolph said. “How exciting that this company with global investment has chosen Lafourche Parish as the site to manufacture their products. The familiar sight of the ‘Raceland Mountains’ will disappear because these innovative people have determined that sugar cane waste can be transformed into useful products in the biochemical industry.”

“Years from now, we will look back upon our renewable fuels movement, just as we did in the last century with the industrial revolution,” said President/CEO Vic Lafont of the South Louisiana Economic Council. “With all our natural resources, the Bayou Region is well-positioned to be at the center of this revolution."

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