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Southern scrap moving HQs back to the city


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Very good news, N.O's strength is in the small and mid sized businesses that employ 20-50-100 people and it's great to see another one of these kinds of businesses come back to the city after relocating.

Southern Scrap is moving its headquarters back to the city

by Jen DeGregorio, The Times-Picayune Friday June 13, 2008, 6:27 PM

One of New Orleans' oldest companies is moving its headquarters back to the city after relocating across Lake Pontchartrain in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Southern Scrap will open its new command center at 902 Julia St. before the end of July and return 20 employees to the city, said Joel Dupre, chief executive officer of Southern Recycling, the parent company of Southern Scrap. Founded in 1900, the metal recycling firm had to shutter its offices along the Industrial Canal in eastern New Orleans after breached levees unleashed floodwaters into the building during Katrina.

"We still love New Orleans," Dupre said. "We started here; we want to be here."

However, the company may still have to abandon its primary operations in the city. The 400-employee recycling yard Southern Scrap runs on the canal has had trouble moving materials since the storm, which blocked one of the canal's two outlets for marine traffic.

The storm deposited silt on the floor of the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet that has made the channel too shallow for deep-draft ships, which the company uses for scrap material and to transport metal to customers. The MR-GO will soon close altogether, when the Army Corps of Engineers begins in the months ahead to build a rock barrier just south of Bayou La Loutre. A date for the closure has not been set.

Meanwhile, a 1920s-era lock system that allows vessels to move between the canal and river often breaks down and is too small to fit many of the ships Southern Scrap needs for business.

"Our capability is being threatened," Dupre said.

The company is looking to relocate the canal yard and has its eye on several locations in the Gulf South as well as one site on the Mississippi River, although Dupre would not say whether the land was in New Orleans. Southern Scrap has more than a dozen other recycling centers scattered throughout Louisiana, Alabama, Florida and Mississippi.

Dupre said he has been in touch with the Port of New Orleans, from which Southern Scrap leases its Industrial Canal yard. But the port has not found an alternative location for the company, he said. Officials from the port did not return phone calls seeking comment.

City Council President Arnie Fielkow said he was "delighted" that Southern Scrap decided to return its headquarters to New Orleans and that the council would work with the company to keep its recycling yard in the city as well.

"This represents one of the very few companies that have made the decision to come back to New Orleans after relocating, and I think that is a very good statement for our community going forward," he said.

Southern Scrap is particularly significant, Fielkow added, because of its contribution to the shipping industry. He and other city officials have recently put a spotlight on the port as an economic engine capable of generating jobs and tax dollars to supplement the city's starved post-storm economy.

"This is a continuation of the emphasis that we need to place on our maritime-related businesses and the fact that New Orleans has a great opportunity to expand and grow that area of our economy in the future," Fielkow said.

Jen DeGregorio can be reached at [email protected] or (504)¤826-3495.


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