Steel plant opening means thousands of jobs for the Gulf South

MOBILE, AL (WLOX) - By Doug Walker – bio | email

MOBILE COUNTY, AL (WLOX) - The new $5 billion ThyssenKrupp stainless steel plant in Mobile County, Alabama officially opened for business Friday.  The plant currently employs about 1,700 people, and will reach full capacity of 2,700 workers next year.

The chairman of the board, Dr. Ekkehard Schulz, made clear his commitment to Alabama during the opening ceremony.

"So big wheels keep on turning, so goes the opening line of Sweet Home Alabama."

Schulz said the new plant means work for thousands.

"We will eventually have 2700 permanent employees here, many times the number of jobs will be created in the region."

Many of those employees come from Mississippi every day. One of them is Lance Parker from Lucedale, who drives 120 miles each day to his new job.

"I worked construction for 13 years and the insurance and benefits is not there in the construction world, so it's better benefits and a better opportunity for my family," Parker said.

With an average salary of $50,000 a year, it's not hard to believe that more than 60,000 people applied for those jobs.

Even with the country in an economic slump, company officials said they had no problem investing in this country. Schulz predicts a bright future.

"The automotive and engineering sectors will grow again significantly," Schulz said.  "The USA is on the right track here.  If we didn't believe that, we wouldn't have made this major investment in our new plant."

And that investment will mean a prosperous future for the central gulf coast for years to come.

Here are some interesting facts about the plant.  It is four times the size of Central Park in New York.  In fact, you could put 26 Louisiana Superdomes into the space that's under roof.  The plant will manufacture industrial, as well as stainless steel.

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