Hotel business helps back up jobs claim

Published 11:45 pm Friday, August 8, 2014

When politics might be in play, press releases can take on a feel of propaganda, making even the most open-minded journalist a cynical investigator.

Such was the case last month when attached to a release from the governor’s office about a new venture at the Port of South Louisiana was this tidbit: In addition, Louisiana Economic Development officials estimate the project will result in 2,365 new indirect jobs in Southeast Louisiana and surrounding areas.

That has a way of jumping out at you when it’s shoehorned into news that Yuhuang Chemical is opening a methanol-manufacturing complex locally that will create 400 new jobs.

How can 400 expand out to 2,365?

Well, we posed that question to Louisiana Economic Development, and after a weekend of thought (read: some days off), LED Secretary Stephen Moret explained the expected indirect jobs are “all permanent jobs in the local area, such as industrial maintenance contractors and other service providers to the facility, as well as new jobs created in the broader economy as a result of all the new spending of the company and its employees.”

He listed additional jobs in health care, business services and retail as examples of indirect jobs River Region residents could expect to see following Yuhuang Chemical’s construction.

It sounds like sound logic, but you wonder if the numbers are inflated for political purposes. In reality, this was still politicians and state agencies making the claims, not private business interests. Then came J.T. Norville, CFO and manager of Midas Hospitality, a hotel-development company based in St. Louis.

Norville was part of a team of business officials and regional politicians that participated in a ground breaking July 29 for a new hotel in St. James Parish.

Norville said Midas Hospitality is launching it prototype extended-stay hotel — Legacy Suites — near Donaldsonville specifically because the company has taken note of “billions” of dollars being spent by a variety of industries that line the Mississippi River near the Sunshine Bridge.

“We feel like there is an unmet demand for temporary housing for that area,” Norville said.

Legacy Suites won’t employ anywhere near 2,000 jobs but it does represent a real investment, in the form of a 113-room hotel that should be open by next summer.

It’s a company with a model that demands a constant turnover of business professionals in this region.

Their experts feel the River Parishes are a good investment because of the jobs and activity on the horizon, and in that projection, we feel a little safer with LED’s claim that many (maybe not 2,365) news jobs are coming following the announcement at the port.