A state senator from southeast Missouri who sponsored the Noranda/steel mill bill says the New Madrid area is great for industrials.

Senator Doug Libla (R-Poplar Bluff)

State Sen. Doug Libla (R-Poplar Bluff) sponsored the Senate bill, which passed 24-5 on Friday. The Missouri House approved the bill 120-17 last week.

The bill is now on Governor Eric Greitens’ (R) desk.

Senator Libla tells Missourinet the infrastructure is already in place for the smelter.

“It’s got a really nice building, it’s got a port for their inbound raw materials,” Libla says. “It’s also got the interstate (I-55) for highway right there by them, and there’s a lot of trained and seasoned workers with that experience waiting to go to work.”

About 900 people lost their jobs when the Noranda smelter closed in 2016. Bill supporters say that since then, the average household income has dropped $6,000 in New Madrid County.

State Rep. Don Rone (R-Portageville), who sponsored the House bill, says the average salary for smelter employees will be $95,000, once it opens.

Libla says the steel mill company plans to invest at least $82 million in infrastructure. Libla’s sprawling district includes New Madrid County.

“From what I understand, it’ll be constructed brand-new from ground up,” says Libla. “So that may take, you know, 18 months or so to get that established and get that that built out.”

The Rone-Libla legislation is aimed at creating about 500 new jobs in impoverished southeast Missouri. Greitens tells Missourinet that nine of the ten poorest counties in the state are in southeast Missouri.

House Majority Leader Mike Cierpiot (left), House Speaker Todd Richardson (center) and State Rep. Don Rone (right) brief the Capitol Press Corps on May 24, 2017 (photo courtesy of Tim Bommel at Missouri House Communications]

House Speaker Todd Richardson (R-Poplar Bluff) says the proposed smelter and steel mill that were the topics of the special session would be located in the St. Jude’s Industrial Park in New Madrid.

“I cannot think of anything more appropriate, Madam Speaker, than to have the patron saint of lost causes be the location for this extraordinary project,” Richardson said last week in a rare House floor speech.

Libla says the bill also allows new businesses looking to come to Missouri to apply for a special electric rate.