Bay St. Louis city leaders are calling it a win, win situation. A new home building company has set up shop in town. Not only will it provide jobs to the people of the storm ravaged community, but will also breathe life into a building that's been vacant for three years.
Anchor Custom Homes has purchased the old Alcan plant. The 170,000 square foot building will be used to make what some call "instant homes."
"We expect to be able to produce minimum of one house per day. When we're running 24 hours a day, we should be up to two to three per day," owner Gerald Mallon said.
The company will employee about 25 people initially, but by year's end that number is expected to grow significantly.
"We should probably be also having support groups out doing foundations and on site assembly... so probably about 150 by the end of the year," Mallon said.
The custom homes will be assembled in sections at the plant, then delivered to a home site and set up quickly.
"Using the Henry Ford model of "move the line and keep the people stationary." That's basically what we're doing. And we'll use fork lifts to deliver the heavy components."
The homes are designed for hurricane prone areas.
"The materials that are used are materials that are for submerging in water, that recover. If the house, for example, was submerged in water, it dries itself out and you don't have to take it all apart. You may have some sheet rock on the inside, you don't have rewiring. you don't have all the different types of mold and growth products. The foam insulation we're using doesn't grow mold. "
Bay St. Louis Mayor Eddie Favre is excited about Anchor Custom Homes.
"From a contractor standpoint, we have so few contractors around who are able to turn products out as quickly as the needs are."
Favre says the company's timing couldn't be better.
"Most of our other businesses are still closed down and the employees are still looking for jobs elsewhere. So I think to provide employment, it helps the people be able to make that decision to stay home, to rebuild their lives rebuild their homes."
The company has been working closely with the Bay St. Louis Building Department to make sure the instant homes are designed and built to code. They hope to produce about a thousand new homes each year.