LA: Gov. Jindal, Kennedy Rice Dryers Announce New Rice Mill In Mer Rouge

23 Feb, 2011

Expansion to result in 22 new direct jobs and represents $10 million capital investment
Map of Louisiana highlighting Morehouse Parish

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Gov. Bobby Jindal recently joined Kennedy Rice Dryers Founder and President Elton Kennedy, U.S. Rep. Rodney Alexander and Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain to announce Kennedy Rice Mill, a subsidiary of Kennedy Rice Dryers, will establish a new rice mill in Mer Rouge.

This project will create 22 new direct jobs and represent a capital investment of $10 million. The mill will run two shifts, but could add a third shift, which would increase the job count to roughly 30 new direct jobs. Construction on the mill will begin and end during calendar year 2011, and Kennedy Rice Dryers estimates there will be 50 construction jobs created with the project. Louisiana Economic Development estimates the 22 new direct jobs will result in 85 new indirect jobs and will generate approximately $3.5 million in new, state tax revenue and nearly $1.2 million in new, local tax revenue over the next 10 years.

"The new Kennedy Rice Mill is great news for Mer Rouge, Morehouse Parish and Northeast Louisiana," said Gov. Jindal. "When International Paper closed its mill in Bastrop, La., we made a promise to work with the leaders of the impacted communities to develop a plan that would get the area back on its feet. Today's announcement is another significant step in the right direction, and we will continue to aggressively pursue more job opportunities for the people of Mer Rouge, Bastrop, Morehouse Parish and all of Louisiana.

"This new mill will create 22 new direct jobs and include a capital investment of $10 million. It will run two shifts, with the possibility of the company adding a third shift, which would increase the job total to around 30 new direct jobs. Construction on the mill will begin and end this year, and Kennedy Rice Dryers estimates that there will be 50 construction jobs created by this project. Louisiana Economic Development estimates the 22 new direct jobs will result in another 85 new indirect jobs."

Elton Kennedy is not new to the milling industry. He served as an active board member for Riviana Foods, an international rice company, for more than 20 years. Kennedy is also co-operator in the Godchaux Abbeville family partnership of Planters Mill located in Abbeville, La.

"The new mill in Mer Rouge, along with Planters, will play an important role in producing and maintaining products that meet and exceed the safe quality foods standards produced by the Food Marketing Institute," said Kennedy. "We will use the latest milling equipment and will include some of the most advanced technology in the industry. This addition will enable us to better serve our farmers and existing customers throughout the U.S. and reach out to new customers."

Once complete, the new mill will be one of the few new rice mills built in the region over the last quarter century, and will be the only rice mill from Southern Arkansas to I-10. As a result, farmers in North Louisiana will have a new market for their rice with more favorable freight rates. The new mill is also expected to process 30 percent to 40 percent of the Northeast Louisiana rice crop, and approximately 95 percent of Kennedy Rice Mill's sales will ship to out-of-state destinations.

"Elton Kennedy continues to lead the way in the agriculture industry with the construction of this state-of-the-art rice mill in North Louisiana," said Alexander. "This much needed rice mill in North Louisiana will help meet the needs of the many rice farmers throughout Louisiana and South Arkansas with its unique technology. This mill will help enable Louisiana rice farmers to continue to be the leaders in producing quality agriculture products to be sold around the world."

Along with the DG Foods expansion that was announced in December 2010, Kennedy Rice Mill is the second project LED has secured in less than three months in Morehouse Parish. LED began working with Kennedy Rice Dryers in 2010. To help secure this project, LED offered the company an incentive package that includes customized workforce solutions from Louisiana FastStart™, a 5 percent to 6 percent rebate on new payroll expenses and certain sales taxes from the Quality Jobs Program, property tax abatement for materials used in new manufacturing from the Industrial Tax Exemption Program and performance-based financial assistance of approximately $300,000 for infrastructure improvements from the Economic Development Loan Opportunity Program.

"The Kennedy Rice Mill underscores how important rice is to the Louisiana agricultural economy," said Strain. "With an annual economic impact of $500 million or more, rice is our fifth largest commodity. We are the third largest U.S. rice producer with more than 464,000 acres in production. Our farmers grow more than three billion pounds of rice a year to supply an expanding world market. The Kennedy Rice Mill is another large agricultural project that emphasizes how important agriculture is to the economic health of Louisiana."

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