Yea! We’re Number 2!

As I predicted about the time that Kathleen Blanco announced the she would no longer be running for Governor, Louisiana lost out on the steel mill plant that was suppose to save the state. Or so the Germans would have had us believe.

As the deadline got closer and closer, the state decided to up the ante even more. First the state was going to offer incentives worth 200 million to land the mill. Then increased to 300 million. That was Kathleen Blanco “last, final and best offer”. Until word spread this morning that the state had boosted the incentive package to a little over a “One Billllliooooonnnn” dollars.

In the end, it didn’t matter if we offered a gazillion trillion billion dollars to this company. In the end it wasn’t about money. It wasn’t about location either because Louisiana’s location for the plant was much better than Alabama’s location, which ended up winning. In the end, it was about stupid. As in a majority of Louisiana’s population didn’t seem to have the brains to work in a steel mill.

I’m not trying to disparage anyone. I have no clue what it takes to make steel. I thought that stuff just magically appeared, much like Ray Nagin magically appears when someone opens a Hershey bar. No I’m trying to make a legitimate point here. This state does not have the employee base to support an operation like the steel mill is going to be.

When I was growing up as a young pup named Danny, this state had technical and community colleges on every corner. Trade schools were not seen as a step down from other forms of education. The state, back in the day, produced a huge number of quality construction, plumbers, electricians and other “hard labor” type workers. As the trade schools and such disappeared, either from lack of funding or the belief that these type jobs were “beneath us”, the rich went off to Tulane, LSU, UNO or wherever while the poor or those who may not be book smart were left to work at Sonic on roller-skates.

I’m rather glad that the mill didn’t come here. Frankly I do not understand the thought process of “let’s give this company millions/billions of dollars to locate here for 2500 jobs”. Run the numbers folks. That’s a payment of 400,000$ per job. WTF? This is the way that politicians think in this state. Wouldn’t it possibly be a better idea to take that 1 billion dollars and start building a foundation in this state that means we educate our children for all types of possible careers? How about some Movie/TV trade school for all these movies that are filming down here? I’m not talking about a 4-year degree from UNO in their film program. I’m talking about a 6 month program for grips, audio techs etc. How about investing those 1 billion dollars in our future instead of throwing it at a company so some politician can get themselves some votes?

One last thought on the matter. It really upsets me to see politicians on TV spouting off about “we’ll we should be proud of ourselves because we were in the running for this project and it’s a positive step that we finished second”. Second is for loser’s people. Maybe if we start showing companies that we are interested in fixing our problems instead of throwing money at things and trying to put band-aids on our gaping wounds, companies will start investing in us instead of standing at the state border with their hand out.

5 Comments so far

  1. Please (unregistered) on May 11th, 2007 @ 3:23 pm

    You have it right the paying for jobs bit. It’s a stupid game. The future is not in steel production anyway. Ask Birmingham. Do you see people beating down the doors to operate steel mills there, when it’s still the best location of them all in the Southeast from an access-to-raw-materials standpoint? What would Birmingham rather have anyway? More medical jobs via UAB, or the old effluents-intensive steel mills?

  2. brian (unregistered) on May 11th, 2007 @ 7:54 pm

    “we’ll we should be proud of ourselves because we were in the running for this project and it’s a positive step that we finished second”

    I was kinda pissed about those types of comments too. 2nd place is just the 1st loser! And what is to be proud of if you come in second in a two horse race?

  3. Heather (unregistered) on May 14th, 2007 @ 9:34 am

    I guess it means $400K per job if you look at one year, but over time that isn’t really how the math works. You also have to keep in mind the tax payments to the state (which is what they cited on the news for their reason to go to Alabama). I liked the idea of the steel mill coming here because it is something that provides jobs. There aren’t a lot of those here anymore – and I totally agree with what you are saying about vocational training. I don’t think the problem is only in Louisiana – I think places everywhere are finding that plumbers, electricians, and over 100 other types of skilled professionals are hard to come by these days.

  4. jack (unregistered) on May 14th, 2007 @ 11:55 am

    1 billion (or any amount) in tax incentives is completely different from putting 1 billion into a foundation, a school, or your own pocket. It is not money that is out there for someone to give. The governor is paying them the money to come over. I can not stand when people make these arguments. The money does not exist right now. It would exist if the mill opened and paid normal taxes. The deal lets them not do this, so the money never exists. It can not be used for anything else because it is not there. It is a common argument of people who say certain money should go to this or that cause or school or whatever instead of to whatever it is being used for. Things don’t work like that.
    That said, steel prices are very high these days, it would have been good for the state to have the company, but we move on to the next thing.

  5. Please (unregistered) on May 14th, 2007 @ 12:44 pm

    The incentives did not include mere tax breaks, but $400 million in dollars spent on job-specific training, on-site infrastuctural improvements, etc. So yes, much of that money would have been appropriated either through existing state monies, or through bonds. You don’t have to look far to get this information, y’know.

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