We'll soon know if almost 30,000 jobs and a $3 billion steel mill are headed to Louisiana. German-based ThyssenKrupp is expected to decide between Louisiana and Alabama at about 2:00 in the morning, our time. This comes as the House unanimously passes a hefty incentive package to lure ThyssenKrupp to Louisiana. By a vote of 101-0, the state House passed a $400 million incentive package for ThyssenKrupp. That matches the offer made by Alabama, and it's expected to breeze through the Senate.
As for St. James Parish, the potential home for the steel mill, landing the huge manufacturing plant would change it forever. Some say St. James Parish is blessed with a certain harmony about it; the way antebellum homes stand majestically within view of massive chemical plants. Clinton Roberts says, "In this area here, it's nice and quiet." Retired welder, Clinton Roberts should know. His whole life, he's watched St. James Parish slowly grow.
But if German-based ThyssenKrupp decides this is where they want to build a new steel mill, a bit of discord could replace that harmony. Parish President Dale Hymel, Jr. says, "You know, we've been able to maintain that good mix. I guess, without one interfering with the other. So, that's why I say it's going to be a big adjustment or a big impact." Hymel says St. James will feel that impact the moment construction would begin. He says, "And they're talking about 24,000 construction jobs. So, that's more than what the population is in the parish." Over three years, workers would transform a cane field in St. James to look similar to a steel mill in Indiana that's owned by AK.
Lifelong St. James resident, Kathleen Canatella agrees a steel mill like this one would bring money into St. James Parish. But she also says the mill, "Will benefit the surrounding parishes a lot more than it will benefit our people." Canatella says, "Livingston, Ascension, St. John. I'm sure they will benefit a lot with the people coming in." Canatella says that's because there's almost nowhere for new residents to live. So, they would have to commute from outside St. James. Parish President Hymel says cane fields would be converted into subdivisions for new residents to live. He says, "Once we get more people in here, then all of those type of service businesses should follow."
WAFB 9NEWS is told that even if ThyssenKrupp doesn't choose Louisiana, there are other businesses looking at that same prime location on the Mississippi River. So, how are the governors from both states dealing with the anticipation?