Company that reneged on 100 Jefferson Parish jobs still provides conflicting numbers

The average salary on its website doesn’t match the figure on its tax exemption application

By: - September 14, 2023 5:00 am
An artists rendering of the American Plant Food Company's proposed fertilizer plant on the Mississippi River in Waggaman

American Plant Food Co. (APF), a Texas-based company that produces industrial fertilizers, wants to open a new manufacturing plant along the Mississippi River in Waggaman. (Image via APF’s project outreach website)

A fertilizer company that drew public backlash over the number of jobs it said it would bring to Jefferson Parish has corrected the number on its website. But it still claims it will pay an average salary of $120,000, a figure that differs drastically from paperwork the company filed with state officials. 

American Plant Food (APF), a Texas-based company that wants to open a new fertilizer manufacturing plant in Waggaman, has used the allure of high-paying jobs to promote its plans and gain approval from residents and local officials. 

Last year, APF initially promised more than 100 full-time permanent jobs with an average salary of $120,000 per year. Since then, the company has gradually decreased those numbers.  

Oct. 28, 2022, The Times-Picayune reported a slight adjustment to the company’s planned salary figure. It stated the plant would create 100 permanent jobs with an average salary of $100,000 per year. 

In its request for an air pollution permit from the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality in March, an APF representative signed a state form certifying the company planned to create 103 permanent jobs at the facility. 

Just three days later, however, APF filed an application for Louisiana’s Industrial Tax Exemption Program (ITEP) and said it planned to create only 16 positions at the plant, according to the Louisiana Economic Development agency (LED), which manages ITEP. Later that month, the company filed its full application with a revised job-creation figure of only 13 positions at an average annual salary of just $56,000, far below the initial promised pay and slightly less than the median household income for Jefferson Parish.

Despite the discrepancies, the company’s website still claimed as late as last week that the project will create more than 100 jobs with average salaries of $100,000. 

As of Monday, APF’s website had job-creation figures that match its ITEP application but not the average salary. The website indicates the project will create 13 permanent positions and 15 contractor positions “with a weighted average annual salary of more than $120K.”

Louisiana’s ITEP is a lucrative corporate tax incentive that offers busineses huge exemptions on local property taxes, which parish and city governments rely on to pay for things such as schools, law enforcement and other public services. 

A company promised 100 high-paying jobs in Jefferson Parish. Now it’s just 13 at half the pay

APF’s total 10-year tax exemption would amount to $47.3 million. In return for forgoing $5.9 million in revenue per year, Jefferson Parish’s economy would receive an injection of just $728,000 per year in the form of employment income from APF’s payroll — eight times less than the tax break the company would get from the parish each year. At that rate, it would take 65 years for the parish to recover the cost of the exemption.

The company has still not responded to the Illuminator’s requests for comment. 

APF recently lost one of its existing fertilizer plants to a massive fire. The Aug. 20 blaze in Bartlett, Texas, forced area residents to evacuate and spread to about six acres of grasslands until it burned itself out. 

Chemicals used to make fertilizers, such as ammonium nitrate, can be highly flammable. 

Jefferson Parish resident Lisa Karlin spoke out about the APF project during Wednesday’s Jefferson Parish Council meeting, but council members offered no comments on the matter. 

Karlin showed the council a video of the fire and cautioned them in approving a pending conditional use zoning permit for the Cornerstone Energy Complex, the site of the proposed APF facility. 

“Fertilizer plants need to be standalone facilities nowhere near a massive chemical plant and far away from residential areas,” Karlin said.  

APF plans to build its plant on Cornerstone’s 800-acre complex, where several other facilities are located and handle the same kinds of chemicals APF uses to produce its fertilizer. APF plans to use sulfuric acid and an ammonia feedstock that another company, Dyno Nobel, already produces at the Cornerstone complex in its manufacturing of explosives.


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Wesley Muller
Wesley Muller

Wes Muller traces his journalism roots back to 1997 when, at age 13, he built and launched a hyper-local news website for his New Orleans neighborhood. In the years since then, he has freelanced for the Times-Picayune in New Orleans and worked on staff at the Sun Herald in Biloxi, WAFB-9News CBS in Baton Rouge, and the Enterprise-Journal in McComb, Mississippi.