Feedback: Anticipation Builds Over Alcoa Modernization
As the clock ticks towards a deadline for Alcoa to decide whether to move forward with a multi-million dollar modernization plan, there is a sense of anticipation -- and anxiety -- throughout the community.
"There's a great deal at stake," said town supervisor Joe Gray.
"We are excited, we are optimistic, but there's always that 'what if?'" Gray said.
Alcoa is considering investing $600 million in its two aluminum smelting plants.
The bulk of the investment would be spent at the east plant, once owned by Reynolds Metals, where a new, modern potline would be built.
If it doesn't make a decision by March 31, the company could risk losing a long-term, low-cost hydropower contract with the New York Power Authority.
Mayor Jim Hidy says the modernization plan is critical to Massena's future:
"Massena's been a home to Alcoa for a hundred and some years, so we're pretty confident it's going to go through for us," he said.
Like many in this blue collar community, Eileen LaBarge is hoping the project moves forward and preserves hundreds of jobs for years to come.
"My son's been there a good many years and I hope it stays here," she said. "It'll affect everything if they go out of here."
U.S. senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand visited Alcoa recently to support the upgrade.
"It's essential for our economy," Gillibrand said when she visted the plant in February, "so we want to keep it here, we want to keep it in the north country."
When he was in Massena last August, Schumer said, "$340 million is contributed to the north country's economy because of this plant."
If Alcoa's board of directors approves the plan, construction could begin as early as June.