In 2011, Benteler Group, a 135-year-old Austria-based company, was exporting up to 25 percent of its steel tube production to the United States. The high volume of steel tube exports prompted Benteler Group's steel/tube division to expand operations into North America and build their first hot-rolling tube mill in the United States.
The company looked at 100 locations across 13 states for this new production center. Benteler wanted a location with access to waterways and interstates, and sustaining support from the region in which they would invest. Most importantly, the company required a talented workforce familiar with manufacturing processes to support the proposed investment.
Competing against neighboring southern states, North Louisiana's economic climate, proximity to the Haynesville Shale with its great shale gas reserves, and quality workforce won a closer look from Benteler. In August 2011, Benteler began discussions with Louisiana Economic Development, the state's lead economic development agency; NLEP, the regional economic development organization; and local partners including the Port of Caddo Bossier. The Port's strategic location allowed Benteler to ship their products easily to regions along the river. Additionally, the Red River Waterway Commission, the Port of Caddo-Bossier and the Caddo Parish Commission agreed to contribute a combined $11.6 million for all infrastructure improvements to support the new facility at the port.
To address the company's crucial workforce needs, a coalition of state and local partners put together an impressive package which included customized workforce training and a $22 million, 65,000-square-foot manufacturing training facility, which would be the first of its kind. The state offered the services of LED FastStart® — the No. 1 workforce program in the country. Additionally, state officials partnered with the Greater Bossier Economic Development Foundation, the City of Bossier and the Bossier Parish Police Jury to facilitate the construction of the new Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering Technology Center at the Bossier Parish Community College campus to support a pipeline of talent for Benteler.
Louisiana Economic Development's customized package for Benteler also included several performance-based grants to reimburse site development, infrastructure and equipment costs incurred by the port and the company during the first years of construction. In October 2012, after an extensive search across the country, Benteler executives announced the location for their first North American investment, selecting the Port of Caddo-Bossier in Shreveport, LA. The $975 billion investment was an historic investment for North Louisiana and recognized among the Top Deals of the Year for 2012.
"By removing obstacles, reducing bureaucracy, providing meaningful support and eliminating roadblocks, Louisiana officials at all levels convinced us that this state is the ideal location for our production facility," said Benteler CEO Matthias Jaeger. "Those officials were willing to work closely with us to create an environment and a set of initiatives that made our decision an easy one."
Benteler executives announced a major two-phase development. The first phase is a seamless steel tube mill, and the second phase is a steel mill. The project will create 675 jobs. Two-phases development will be 1.35 million square feet and will sit on 330 acres at The Port of Caddo-Bossier.
In September 2013, state, regional and local leaders along with Benteler executives joined together to break ground on the $975 million project, announcing that the project was scheduled for an expected completion in late 2015.