New Madrid still in running for steel mill
NEW MADRID, Mo. - New Madrid continues to feel the economic impact from the closing of the county's largest employer, but Richard McGill, the town's city administrator, isn't dwelling on the past as much as he is looking toward the future.
"We are definitely focused on trying to bring in jobs. That has kind of been the big thing over the last two years since the Noranda closing," he said. Noranda, an aluminum smelter at the St. Jude Industrial Park near Marston, at one time employed approximately 900 people before declaring bankruptcy.
The Noranda property was purchased in 2017 by Magnitude Seven. McGill said because the plant is not in the city limits, he is not kept up to date on the operation decisions, however he added the company owner recently stopped in at city hall.
"He wanted to stop in and say hi. There wasn't much he could offer in terms of what their plans are," McGill said. "I know that they are still looking to operate. Their position is still working to get it back open."
However, McGill is very involved in the city's effort to secure a steel mill at an industrial park site within the city limits. A public announcement of a decision on where the steel mill will locate could come as soon as mid-February, he said.
"We are still very much in the running and I'm very optimistic," he added. "It has been a long process but it has been educational. It has been a good experience."
The city has continued to market the property to other business and industrial prospects. The city administrator estimated they submit as many as four or five proposals a month for its industrial site or refer other prospects to the St. Jude Industrial Park.
"We have established some really good partnerships both within in the state and with some site selection agencies that we get the requests from. They know what we have to offer now," he said.
In addition to the land for the industrial park, the completion of a new electrical substation and water plant is expected in 2018. McGill said having the infrastructure in place along with an available workforce is a plus for the area.
"When Noranda closed, I said something along the lines of with challenges come opportunity," McGill said. "I don't think we would have had the opportunity of the steel mill if not for the available work force and without having that land and the substation available. I think the council from four or five or six or seven years ago with their leadership and foresight to do some of these projects ... has put us in a position to really capitalize on some opportunities."