HARVEY, La. - Dyno Nobel America is now building an $850 million ammonia production facility on the Westbank of Jefferson Parish. Friday, Governor Bobby Jindal told a gathering of business and civic leaders not far from the site, that Louisiana needs to do a better job preparing workers for the types of jobs Dyno Nobel and other manufactures are now bringing to the state.
"Today, one of our biggest problems is we have more skilled jobs than we've got skilled people to fill those jobs," said Jindal. "Today, we need 86,000 skilled construction works just to fill the projects we've already announced."
Jefferson Parish Economic Development Commission Executive Director Jerry Bologna says a skilled workforce is critical. "It's certainly a concern when companies look to come in or expand, it's a concern whether or not that workforce is going to be here, whether or not they can find the folks to fill those positions," said Bologna.
Governor Jindal says it's time to invest in Louisiana's renaissance. His budget proposal calls for a $141 million increase in higher education spending and additional money for technical training for high school students. "The idea is to teach our high school kids even before they leave high school, give them the technical training they need," said Jindal. "We need to be training those welders, those IT techs, we need to be training those healthcare professionals. There are thousands of good paying jobs we could fill today if we had the trained people."
"They are well paying jobs with benefits," said Bologna. "Those are the ones we want to see in this region. The effort we make toward workforce development gets our people into those jobs." State Senator David Heitmeier, D-Algiers, says additional investment in workforce training is needed. "The more that we communicate with industry and academia, the more jobs that we'll have available, right out of college, good paying jobs to increase jobs for Louisiana," said Heitmeier.
Dyno Nobel America expects to begin ammonia production in 2016.