December 10th, 2008
Jobs, Jobs, Jobs
The title this week is not what I started out intending to write about, but after reading an article in the Estherville, IA paper on December 4, 2008 I thought I had better bring people a reminder as to what is and what is not economic opportunity in South Dakota.
The Estherville IA paper mentioned 2 states with lower than the national average on unemployment and that South Dakota would be a terrific place to look with the coming of the coming of the Hyperion Energy Center. They mentioned 4000 jobs during construction and 1800 permanent when the refinery is finished. I couldn’t believe that after all this time, there are still people that believe this stuff. Then I started to wonder how we can get if not national exposure, at least get attention in the local region as to what is going on with this refinery. I mean Estherville is only a little over 100 miles from the proposed refinery site and I would hate to see people’s hopes dashed when they come looking for jobs. I responded to the article by saying that they need to reconsider what was said. I think it might not be a bad idea to remind everyone what the possibilities are for jobs if Hyperion decides to come here.
1. Hyperion still has not said that they are coming here. If they were, would they still be renewing options on the land when they could just buy it outright and get it over with? Oops, I forgot, they don’t have the money to buy it outright do they? With the downturn in the economy, long-term investors might be hard to come by especially the really BIG oil companies that are curtailing construction on their own refineries.
2. Of the 4000-8000 jobs that will be temporarily available, how many people will have the skills that will be needed? Remember the statement by the pipefitters and steamfitters union that this job will require 1000 fitters and that there are only 400 in the entire siouxland area? Now let’s put pencil to paper and if all the fitters go to work for Hyperion, how many businesses in Sioux City will go out of business? Or better yet, how many businesses will get into a bidding war with their potential loss of employees just to stay in business? Is the economic development the Sioux City chamber of commerce is endorsing? Come on folks, this is a joke.
3. Of the 1800 full time jobs that will be available, 80% or 1440 jobs will be imported because people around here don’t have the labor skills the jobs require. Sure, there will be manual labor jobs, but skilled positions will be a rarity. Of the 360 jobs that will be filled, how many will be given to people who already live within close proximity of the site and will only have to commute to work? This is not bringing new growth to the area. It is bringing new jobs, but not growth.
4. Refineries are historically built in economically depressed areas. Does this mean that Hyperion considers this part of the state economically depressed? Certainly not Dakota Dunes, but do you remember a statement made by someone at Hyperion that this will give the farmers a second income to supplement their depressed earnings? Or, it will give the farm wives additional opportunity to bring added income back to the farm. There was a study done by someone that figured the average income for farmers was $27000.
To everyone that reads this column I would like to ask you to do me a favor. There is a theory called the “6 degrees of separation”. What this theory is that communication has made the world so small that you can pick any one person anywhere in the world and by the time the sixth person is called you will find someone who actually knows or has spoken to this person. This works. I’ve done it. So – here’s the thing – pick one person far away from you anywhere in the world. You may only call the one person. Ask them if they know about Doug Maurstad and his position on the Hyperion Energy Center. The other person may or may not know the answer. If they don’t know the answer, then instruct them to follow the same directions I gave to you to call only one other person and ask them the same question, do you know Doug Maurstad and the Hyperion Energy Center. Also, instruct the first person you call that this is to go no farther than 5 other people and that if and when it goes to the 6th person they are to email or call you with the answer. So, you have to call someone that you do not talk to on a regular basis, preferably someone you have not talked to in a long time. Ask them if they know Doug Maurstad and the Hyperion energy center. Give them your phone number or email address for the last person that is contacted that knows Doug Maurstad and his position on the Hyperion Energy Center to call or email you with the answer.
This will accomplish 3 things. It will get you connected to someone you haven’t talked to in a long time; it will let other people know about the Hyperion issue, and it will truly baffle you that something this nutty actually works. I know the guys won’t do this unless curiosity gets the best of them, but I’m sure all the women will. Trust me, it will work. Remember, when you get your answer email me and let me know the results. This is a great thing to do at Christmas time. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org. I will publish the results in the paper when I get them back. Now don’t disappoint me on this. Trust me it will work. I’m betting that none of you will get to the 6th person. Special notice will be given to the person the farthest away that knows the answer.