The effort to land a steel mill in southeast Missouri’s New Madrid continues.
New Madrid city administrator Richard McGill told Missourinet on Tuesday the city is still in the running for the steel mill, adding that good progress has been made in discussions with the steel mill owner.
McGill says Governor Mike Parson has traveled to the Bootheel several times and has been very helpful on various projects.
State Rep. Don Rone, R-Portageville, is also hopeful about a steel mill.
He represents four counties in the impoverished Bootheel. Those counties are Mississippi, New Madrid, Pemiscot and Scott.
In 2017, Rone said that the steel mill owner wanted right-to-work to pass.
Missourinet recently asked Rone if right-to-work’s defeat in an August referendum will impact the steel mill efforts.
“I guess if he builds it, it didn’t hurt. So I can’t speak for him,” Rone says, adding that he hasn’t spoken to the owner since the vote.
Rone says he’s disappointed in the right-to-work vote, saying that Arkansas and Tennessee are booming with industry because of right-to-work.
He specifically cites the growth in Jonesboro, Arkansas, which now has about 75,000 residents.
Meanwhile, Rone says the newly-reopened smelter in Marston has hired hundreds of people. He says the Magnitude Seven smelter has had a positive impact on his district.
“I can report to you that the smeltering plant is now up to a little over 400 people hired,” says Rone. “They’ve got 135 pots going out of hopefully 350.”
Rone is hopeful the smelter will hire even more people.
“They are looking really serious at opening up the third pot line and a rod and wire mill, which will mean another 150 to 200 jobs,” Rone says.
When the former Noranda smelter closed in 2016, about 900 people lost their jobs and the average household income in New Madrid County fell by $6,000.
Rone also notes that a new soybean processing plant will be built near Caruthersville, which is about 30 miles from the smelter.
He says the Sedes Soy Crush facility will create about 60 new jobs, saying “it’s going to be a real shot in the arm to us down there.”
The Missouri Department of Economic Development says the soybean facility will process non-GMO specialty soybeans that focus on high proteins.