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|West Monroe native's pipeline business generates big money for local economy|
While much of the talk regarding the economy is peppered with doom and gloom, there are many positives if one knows where to look.
A West Monroe native is involved in a six-month project that will boast a payroll of about $15 million.
John Allen, president of Pipe Line Constructors, LLC, grew up in West Monroe off North 7th Street where his family was good friends of former Mayor Bert Hatten.
Allen graduated from West Monroe High School, and later, he graduated from Louisiana Tech University. He eventually moved to Houston where he got involved in the pipeline business.
Allen eventually moved back to northeast Louisiana, where he said he was eventually encouraged to get back into the pipeline business by associates from Houston.
Many local workers are glad he did.
Currently, Pipe Line Constructors is working on the local segment of a pipeline project that will place almost 600 miles of natural gas pipeline from Oklahoma to Alabama.
To complete the local segment of that project, Pipe Line Constructors has employed 550 people. About 60 percent of them are from north Louisiana. The remaining workers hail from all across the United States.
The local project consists of laying down 42 miles of 42-inch pipe, and one mile of 36-inch pipe from Sterlington, north of the power plant, to just east of Delhi.
The group began the project around mid-November, and expects to have it completed within the next six months.
During this timeframe, Allen said regional workers and out-of-state workers will provide a tremendous boost to the local economy.
"They are in motels and apartments and they're all going to local supermarkets and Wal-Marts, so this project is bringing in a lot of money to the local economy," Allen said. "Our total payroll for this portion of the project is about $15 million, and they'll spend a lot of money here."
Allen said pipeline projects have helped add money to the local economy over the past several years as three major projects took place during the past 36 months.
"There haven't been major pipeline projects across north Louisiana for years until this flurry of work started up about three years ago," Allen said. "It's definitely been a boast to the local economy. Anytime we can go into a region, the locals are always glad to see us because these projects bring in a quick influx of money. Everyday they (workers) are spending money in the local economy."
Besides the influx of money from the workers, pipeline projects also generate business for local companies, Allen said.
"The company comes in and we do tons of business with local companies," Allen explained. "We buy equipment, supplies … the list is huge of who we are doing business with locally every day."
The pipeline business is cyclical in nature, Allen said, with the largest production done whenever there is a high energy demand.
Workers are hired through four different unions, which have local chapters that work to get their members hired for various projects.
Allen said the group tries to hire as many local workers as possible, and then bring in additional crews from across the U.S.