So far, so good
One year ago this month Alcoa sent the first of two seismic shocks through Rockdale and Milam County.
In June, 2008, our area's largest employer announced it was shutting down three of its six potlines at Alcoa's Rockdale Operations and laying off 300 workers.
The other shoe dropped in September when Alcoa said it would close the other three potlines and lay off most of the rest of what was a work force of 1,100 at this time last year.
It wasn't hard to find people the first week in October, 2008, painting a picture of our town with tumbleweeds blowing down Cameron Avenue by summer.
Those people were wrong. Nobody's saying Rockdale's economy is robust but consider this:
• Preliminary taxable values, released last week by the Milam County Appraisal District (MCAD), showed Luminant's Sandow 5 valuation increase last year more than made up for the loss of Alcoa.
And that's with Sandow 5 about 75 percent complete. More value will be added this year.
Attention taxing entities: That should mean taxpayers won't take a hit from the Alcoa closing when they open their tax statements this fall. Well, shouldn't it?
• According to the Texas Workforce Commission, about one-fourth of the laid-off Alcoans have already found new jobs and the TWC believes it will get a $2.3 million grant to assist in ongoing job searches.
Meanwhile, the sub pay many laid off Alcoans are getting continues to do what it was intended — spread out the effects of the layoffs for them and the community over a number of months.
• Luminant estimates when Sandow 5 goes on line in about two months it will have about 400 persons employed permanently at Units 4 and 5 plus the Three Oaks Mine.
That's not Alcoa. But it's more than one-third of an Alcoa. It's far from nothing.
There are actually new businesses opening in Rockdale and even Texas as a whole is a relative bright spot in the national economic situation.
We're still here. And we're staying.—M.B.