(This is the fourth and final part of a series from Missourinet’s Brian Hauswirth, examining the poverty in southeast Missouri and the possibility of the region getting a steel mill)
NEW MADRID, Mo.- The city administrator in this impoverished Bootheel community says it’s been a “team effort” to try and land a steel mill.
New Madrid city administrator Richard McGill says the team effort has involved Governor Eric Greitens (R), the Missouri House and Senate, U.S. Sens. Claire McCaskill (D) and Roy Blunt (R) and U.S. Rep. Jason Smith (R).
McGill remains optimistic.
“We have people that are ready to go back to work the minute they’re called,” McGill says. “And so we’ve got opportunity here and we’re trying to seize that.”
McGill tells Missourinet New Madrid remains a finalist for the mill, which he says would create 170 immediate jobs.
He expects a decision from the steel mill owner by December 31, adding that he’s also prepared if that doesn’t happen.
“We’ve been fighting since, well before February but we’ve been fighting for a long time on this, especially since the (2016) closure of Noranda,” says McGill. “And so that fight’s not going to stop whether we get the steel mill or not.”
Greitens says nine out of the state’s ten poorest counties are in southeast Missouri. Four of the state’s highest counties with free and reduced school lunch participation rates are located in the Bootheel.
Meantime, the state senator who represents the region says he’s always supported special electric rates to help reopen the former Noranda smelter or to land a new steel mill in New Madrid.
State Sen. Doug Libla, R-Poplar Bluff, describes himself as a job creator.
“It was widely reported that I was against jobs in southeast Missouri, and anybody that knows me in southeast Missouri knows that I am a job maker. I don’t just run around the state talking about jobs. I’ve actually created jobs,” Libla says.
Libla is retired from Mid Continent Nail Corporation in Poplar Bluff. During an extensive November interview with Missourinet in Cape Girardeau, Libla also warned about unfair foreign trade and utility companies trying to charge what he calls “unreasonable electric charges.”