Baton Rouge Refinery Integrated Competitiveness Project (BRRIC)

In 2021, ExxonMobil corporate was considering investing in the company’s Baton Rouge Refinery through a series of projects to improve the refinery’s processing capability and overall competitiveness. This potential investment, known as the Baton Rouge Refinery Integrated Competitiveness Project (BRRIC), would invest nearly $240 million into the Capitol Region’s facility. BRRIC was poised to modernize the site to better process crude oil and position the site to attract future refinery and chemical investment. Without BRRIC, the refinery would continue to age and lose out on future projects and investments.

However, ExxonMobil needed to ensure the economics worked out, especially as the company recovered from pandemic losses and layoffs. The Industrial Tax Exemption (ITEP) was vital to make the investment cost-effective and attractive to corporate leadership. The Ehrhardt Group was contracted to assist ExxonMobil in securing approval for ITEP for BRRIC from state and local leaders, as well as members of the community. 

The Goals

  • Educate members of the community, stakeholders, media and elected officials on the importance of modernizing and investing in ExxonMobil’s Baton Rouge Refinery. 
  • Minimize opposition of the project based on the few full-time jobs created by shifting focus to the economic impact the industrial investment would have to the region in the height of the pandemic. 
  • Generate a diverse group of supporters that could be mobilized to speak on behalf of the project to decision makers, ultimately creating a wave of support that would lead to approval for the investment’s ITEP.

The Results

With the guidance and support of The Ehrhardt Group, ExxonMobil’s BRRIC project ultimately was approved by the state Board of Commerce and Industry, the Baton Rouge Sheriff, the Metro Council and the East Baton Rouge School Board. On June 21, 2021, ExxonMobil and Gov. John Bel Edwards announced the company’s final investment decision to officially bring more than $240 million in capital improvements to the facility. 

Ultimately, the positive media coverage and mobilized public support generated by The Erhardt Group and the client helped to make the ITEP approval process, and ultimately the company’s investment decision, successful.  

How We Achieved Them

  • Created an aggressive media strategy that outlined the need for the project, its importance for future investments and proactively addressed the opposition’s concerns. 
  • Cultivated a diverse group of ExxonMobil supporters to be mobilizing on the client’s behalf through social media videos, statements, presentations, remarks at public meetings and calls to elected officials
  • Developed video testimonials of support from stakeholders to disseminate through social media channels and in-person meetings. 
  • Drafted messaging, talking points, press materials and collateral that accurately dispels misinformation and persuasively represents the investment as vital to the future of Baton Rouge.
  • Promoted the project’s economic impact to emphasize the importance of industrial investment during the economic downturn of the pandemic, especially as other refineries in the state were shutdown.

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