Jobs and industry could boost Bootheel economy

Gary Branam
Gary Branam
Jobs and industry could boost Bootheel economy
By: Wes Wallace
LILBOURN, Mo. - In the last two years, the Heartland lost nearly 4,000 jobs to outsourcing or plants shutting down.   Sikeston, Malden, Morehouse, Poplar Bluff, Herrin, and several other communities all lost jobs vitally to the local economy.  Now, after a three year effort, a few new jobs are on the way to Lilbourn.
"We're just looking forward to this being the beginning of what Southeast Missouri can be,"  says Gary Branam, President of the Great River Soybean Processing Co-op.
The plan involves creating a bio-diesel plant in Lilbourn.  A groundbreaking a few weeks ago had to be moved indoors, thanks to a torrential downpour that left parts of the Bootheel under several feet water.  Now, there's construction equipment, piles of dirt, and stakes marking off what's to become the new facility.
Everything should be up and running by the spring.
"We know this is not a silver bullet and we don't claim for it to be," says Branam, "We do claim for it to be a start to expand and bring more businesses in this area."
The concept utilizes farmland already in the area. In fact, the plans also include adding a soybean processing plant in the next few years, which could mean an additional 30 to 35 jobs.