TOKYO – Gov. John Bel Edwards continued his economic development mission to Asia Tuesday by visiting a silicon semiconductor plant and meeting with top executives of two of the world's largest chemical manufacturing companies. The governor was joined by Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Don Pierson, members of the governor’s staff and LED’s Office of International Commerce and Business Development.
The delegation traveled by train to northern Japan to learn more about the operations of the Shin-Etsu Handotai Shirakawa Plant. The facility produces silicon wafers that are critical components in the information technology, electric vehicle and renewable energy supply chains tied to Louisiana’s diversifying energy, manufacturing and tech sectors. Shin-Etsu also owns Shintech, the PVC manufacturer that has invested more than $10 billion in its West Baton Rouge and Iberville parish facilities since establishing operations in Louisiana in 2001.
“Companies like Shin-Etsu are stepping up to meet the increasing global demand for semiconductors, silicon materials and PVC products, and we are working diligently to attract more of those investments and the jobs they create to our state,” Gov. Edwards said. “Shin-Etsu is well-established in Louisiana. They understand the unique advantages that our skilled manufacturing workforce and superior port infrastructure offer to companies seeking access to global markets. We expressed our gratitude for their extensive investments in Louisiana, our support for their commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and our readiness for additional investments in our state’s diversifying, future-focused economy.”
Shintech is the world’s leading manufacturer of polyvinyl chloride resins, or PVC. Its most recent expansion, announced in 2021, invested $1.3 billion to increase manufacturing, packaging and warehousing capacity at its facilities in Plaquemine and Addis. Those projects added 30 new direct jobs to the more than 530 existing jobs at its West Baton Rouge and Iberville facilities. The company can accommodate additional expansion on existing property as it attempts to keep pace with the demand for PVC, a versatile, durable product used in construction, health care, electronics, automobile and a wide variety of other industrial and consumer products.
“It has been longer than two decades since Shintech became a corporate citizen of Louisiana and Gov. Edwards has been a strong supporter of our continued investments in the state,” said Yasuhiko Saitoh, President of Shin-Etsu Chemical Co. Ltd, and Shintech, Inc. “He also shares our commitment to safe operations and supports our efforts to grow our business and local Louisiana workforce to meet the global demand for the important products we make. PVC is much needed as a material of choice which greatly contributes to concurrent progress of greenhouse gas reduction and infrastructure improvements for human life and society, from safe water and sewer lines to building materials. We look forward to further strengthening our business alliance with the state."
The delegation also met with top executives from Tokai Carbon Co., which manufactures carbon black, a material used for a variety of consumer end products ranging from automobile tires to computer printer inks and plastics. Among the topics of discussion was Tokai Carbon’s commitment to sustainability, which includes a plan to equip its Addis facility with cogeneration, a fuel-efficient technology that produces heat and electricity at the same time. That process is expected to produce 10 megawatt hours of electricity for the plant, displacing CO2 that would have been produced by burning fossil fuels.
“Tokai Carbon is pleased and honored to welcome Gov. Edwards and the Louisiana delegation to Tokyo,” Tokai Carbon President Hajime Nagasaka said. “Our company has an over 100-year history of contributing to society and a growing global network, which includes our Addis, Louisiana, branch that opened in 1969. We look forward to expanding our overseas business and continuing our good relationship with Louisiana.”
On Wednesday, the governor will travel to Seoul in preparation for meetings with Korean investors and dignitaries Thursday and Friday.