About 450 new jobs paying an average salary of $64,000 will be coming to a new aluminum smelter in southeast Missouri’s impoverished New Madrid County, according to Governor Eric Greitens (R).

The former Noranda smelter is in the St. Jude Industrial Park in New Madrid (November 2017 photo from Missourinet’s Darren Rucker)

The governor spoke at Friday afternoon’s formal announcement in the St. Jude industrial park, where he reminded residents he called Missouri lawmakers back for a May special session to pass the Noranda/steel mill legislation.

“And that’s that the people of southeast Missouri are proud, that’s that the people of southeast Missouri are ready to work and that’s that the people of southeast Missouri are ready to stand up and to fight for their families,” Greitens says.

The bipartisan legislation called by Greitens during the May special session was approved 24-5 by the Missouri Senate and by the House in a 120-17 vote. The bill was sponsored in the House by State Rep. Don Rone, R-Portageville.

Rone’s bill had strong Democratic House support in May, including from State Rep. Greg Razer (D-Kansas City). The freshman lawmaker graduated from Cooter High School in Pemiscot County in 1996.

“When I go home to visit family and friends and I drive around, I am struck by that poverty, by that lack of opportunity that you see in New Madrid County, Pemiscot, Dunklin,” Razer said on the House floor in May.

House Minority Whip Kip Kendrick, D-Columbia, tells the Capitol Press Corps that it’s his understanding that the special session did not have a big impact on the smelter announcement, because the company will be using power from an electric cooperative, which is outside the jurisdiction of the Missouri Public Service Commission (PSC).

Kendrick, who voted for the May bill, says he’s “tremendously excited” about the smelter jobs in southeast Missouri, adding that it will be good for the entire state of Missouri.

Officials from Magnitude 7 Metals praise President Donald Trump’s (R) tariff on steel and aluminum, saying it could help the company with additional projects in New Madrid County.

The “Washington Post” reports President Trump announced Thursday that the United States will soon charge a 25 percent penalty on most imported steel and a ten percent penalty on most imported aluminum.

Greitens traveled to Marston, which is near New Madrid. Magnitude 7 Metals is opening their new facility at the former Noranda site, which closed in 2016.

900 people lost their jobs when Noranda closed, taking a $50 million payroll out of the community.

The average household income in New Madrid County has dropped by $6,000 since Noranda’s closing.

Hundreds of residents, many of them former Noranda employees wearing hard hats, attended Friday’s event. They cheered as Greitens talked about the jobs and pay.

“These are quality jobs, jobs that you can raise a family on. Jobs where you can put aside some money for your kids for school,” says Greitens.

State Rep. Don Rone, R-Portageville, tells Missourinet Magnitude 7 Metals has already hired more than 100 people to clean up the former Noranda site.

Greitens, U.S. Rep. Jason Smith, R-Salem, Rone and State Department of Economic Development Director Rob Dixon spoke at Friday’s ceremony, along with Magnitude 7 officials.

Congressman Smith praises the president’s steel tariffs, telling the audience he’s been to the White House twice in the past month to meet with President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence to urge them to take action.

State Rep. Don Rone speaks on the Missouri House floor in March 2018 (photo courtesy of Tim Bommel at House Communications)

Rone carried a small statue of St. Jude with him to the podium in Marston, before he addressed the crowd and reporters. St. Jude is the patron saint of hope and impossible causes.

The smelter is in the St. Jude Industrial Park, just east of Interstate 55.

Governor Greitens notes nine of the state’s ten poorest counties are in southeast Missouri.

(The audio in this Missourinet story was provided courtesy of Cape Girardeau television station KFVS)