Southern Scrap moving in

July 30, 2008 at 9:34 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Because of the pending closure of the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet (MR-GO), Southern Scrap is relocating from New Orleans to St. Charles Parish in a move that will retain 150 jobs and generate 100 new ones in the region over the next three years.

The decision by Southern Recycling (the parent company of Southern Scrap) to relocate its shipbreaking and metal recycling operations moves the state one step closer to closing the MR-GO, which caused substantial flooding during Hurricane Katrina. The company, which is one of New Orleans' oldest businesses, considered six in-state and out-of-state deep-water sites before choosing St. Charles Parish.

“As a Louisiana company for 108 years, this is the place we want to do business, and we wanted to stay as close to New Orleans as possible,” Southern Recycling CEO Joel Dupre said.

Southern Recycling purchased approximately 344 acres of batture land and 117 acres of contiguous dry land near Killona. The site's deep-water access and large, wide batture were critically important to the company's ability to receive ships being scrapped and to transport recycled materials to customers. The site already meets all industrial zoning regulations for its planned use, including buffer area and setback requirements.

Founded in 1900, Southern Recycling had to close its headquarters along the Industrial Canal after floodwaters were forced into the building during Katrina. Their primary operations  center, a 400- employee recycling yard on the canal, also had trouble moving materials since the storm, which blocked two outlets for marine traffic.

With the MR-GO set to close for good when the Army Corps of Engineers begins building a rock barrier just south of Bayou La Loutre, the company decided to relocate their recycling yard.

The company has since moved its headquarters to 902 Julia St. in downtown New Orleans.

The parish expects that Southern Recycling’s $40 million investment will become a catalyst for additional development.

“We know this project holds so much potential for both New Orleans and the entire state of Louisiana, and we are pleased that Southern Recycling has already made commitments to hiring locally and using local vendors whenever possible,” Parish President V.J. St. Pierre said. “We're hoping adjacent land can be acquired in order to provide more opportunities for businesses wishing to take advantage of the transportation options at the site.”

St. Charles Parish Council Chairman Dennis Nuss also sees the move as a positive one.

“This company has been in business for many, many years and has a good reputation,” he said. “It is a definite boost to our economy, and it's always good to see a company decide to stay in Louisiana.”

According to Dupre, another key factor in the decision to remain in Louisiana was the support he received from the state's congressional leaders. Because of efforts on the part of Louisiana's congressional delegation, the company will use federal Water Resources Development Act funds to help offset the cost of the project.

“This is great news and hopefully the beginning of an important and needed trend of our businesses committing to stay in Louisiana,” U.S. Sen. David Vitter said.
Gov. Bobby Jindal agreed.

“Retaining and growing our existing Louisiana businesses is vital to the future economic growth of our state,” he said. “It is terrific news that Southern Recycling has announced they will maintain their operations in Louisiana and create an additional 100 jobs over the next three years.

“These are jobs that will help keep our kids here at home instead of having to leave the state to start a great career.”

But one parish councilwoman said the move caught her off guard.

“Let me state that I knew nothing about this company coming into the parish until the night it was announced at the council meeting,” Councilwoman Carolyn Schexnaydre said. “It was stated that Mr. (Billy) Raymond knew and a meeting was held with the residents of Killona. I was so surprised and had no idea exactly what questions to ask in such a few short minutes.

“My questions now are why wasn't the council at large told as soon as Mr. Raymond and the residents of Killona knew? Why were we asked, at the last minute, if we had any questions when it was a done deal? If the residents are okay with this business in their neighborhood, then it doesn't bother me.”

View other articles written Jonathan Menard

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