Dear Governor John Bel Edwards,
In an email, dated August 17, 2019, Graham Walker, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Fibrebond Corporation indicated that his company would be looking at alternative locations to its Minden plant because Fibrebond needs adequate road and bridge infrastructure to move projects to its customers’ jobsites.
Due to a “de-rated” US HWY 80 bridge, The Fibrebond Corporation has only one route for shipping its projects out to market. The company’s only available route is southwest in the direction of Dixie Inn toward a set of three bridges over Bayou Dorcheat. Recently, he was told that even that route would soon be “de-rated”, hence, eliminating all outbound delivery routes. Very shortly after realizing this likely potential, Mr. Walker hired a site selection firm to consider alternative locations for the Minden plant.
Now, I am sure that one would say that this type of response from a company is a bluff and that Fibrebond could not possibly relocate its plant without suffering major financial consequences to itself. However, as an economic development professional that is concerned about his community’s ongoing well-being on a daily basis, I would not take that chance if I had the resources to repair or replace the infrastructure.
The infrastructure challenges that Fibrebond cites have existed for several years. In the past, State policy makers have had several meetings with local leaders regarding this particular infrastructure issue but a more permanent solution has not been reached. On August 20, 2019, a meeting took place involving state and local policy makers along with officials from Camp Minden with the goal of mapping out a temporary route through Camp Minden. We are very much grateful to Camp Minden for agreeing to help take some of the pressure off Fibrebond and the Minden community but this is not a permanent solution.
In that these are State routes, I am pleading for your assistance in eliminating the infrastructure challenges that the Fibrebond Corporation currently face. The much needed repairs or replacement of the bridges in question will not only help Fibrebond but will ensure that other companies, that use the same routes, will safely get their products out or delivered.
For your reference, I have attached photos of the State routes and bridges that The Fibrebond Corporation has expressed its concern. In addition, I have included the email that Mr. Walker sent out to his employees.
Louisiana Economic Development (LED) and others in your economic development team have worked very hard to position Louisiana as a great place to conduct business. We cannot let something like this overshadow all of their good works. As in other situations that you have demonstrated great leadership, your active engagement in this very important matter will no doubt be remembered.
Economic Development Director