Alcoa will invest $42 million to modernize its East plant – the former Reynolds plant – and add another smelter line, and guarantee at least 900 jobs. The company will also contribute $10 million to a North Country Economic Development Fund. In return, the company will get guaranteed low-cost electricity from the Moses-Saunders hydropower dam on the St. Lawrence River.
Alcoa is a mainstay of the North Country’s economy and the surrounding vicinity, as the largest private-sector employer north of Syracuse. New York State is committed to supporting the company’s success as reflected by our partnership for the continued supply of low-cost hydropower. The modernization of the Massena operations will further reinforce Alcoa’s commitment to the region and secure their long-term future, so that we can keep good jobs here in the North Country.
Alcoa Executive Vice President and President of Global Primary Products Chris Ayers said in a press release that “modernizing Massena will help us move farther down the aluminum cost curve and secure Alcoa’s place as a vital part of the North Country’s economy for decades to come.” The deal is still pending a decision from the Environmental Protection Agency on a cleanup remedy for PCBs in the Grasse River. Ayers said the modernization work would begin in June.
Ernie LaBaff, president emeritus of the Aluminum, Brick, and Glassworkers International Union, started working at Alcoa in 1951, when more than 6,000 people worked at the two aluminum plants and Massena was booming.
Speaking Saturday, LaBaff said “900 of those jobs with those wages and benefits means a lot” to St. Lawrence County. He said Alcoa nearly pulled out of Massena in 2000-2001, when the New York Power Authority was renegotiating its license to operate the power dam. LaBaff says NYPA’s agreement to dedicate low-cost power to Alcoa was the instrumental decision in keeping the company in the North Country.
Tune in Monday morning to The 8 O’Clock Hour for more coverage.