St. Louis – Officials with Sheet Metal Workers Local 36 were joined by state and local officials as they cut the ribbon April 27 on their new 96,023-square-foot headquarters and training facility on the site of the old Nooter/Missouri Boiler factory at 2319 Chouteau.
The facility, built to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum standards, combines the union office, benefits office and 56,314-square-foot joint apprenticeship training school, which will provide state-of-the-art training for more than 3,000 Local 36 members representing more than 150 contractors in St. Louis and eastern Missouri, Columbia, Jefferson City, Springfield and Arkansas.
“Basically, it’s our future,” Local 36 President and Business Manager David Zimmermann said. “This puts us in the position for the next 50 years for our membership to grow. It’s a state-of-the-art facility to provide the best training for our customers. Our members are very proud of it, but not as proud as I am of them for having the foresight to do this.”
The $20 million facility utilizes the region’s most advanced sustainable technology and energy efficient products and practices, officials said, and was funded in part by tax credits and incentives including the New Market and Brownfield tax credits, the Business Energy Investment tax credit grant, the Local Property Tax abatement, the Ameren Business Efficiency program and the Laclede Gas Commercial-Industrial rebate program.
St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay praised Local 36 for its farsightedness in building the new facility and for its commitment to the city and the St. Louis region.
“About two years ago, this was a vacant building. It was blighted. It was environmentally contaminated. It was not being utilized for anything productive. It was an eyesore and really a detriment to this entire area,” Slay said. “They took this piece of property and cleaned it up environmentally to the point where it’s now the greenest building in the St. Louis region.
“It is a benefit to not only the city but to the entire region, not only because of what it does for this property but what it does for the construction industry and the labor community. It assures even a bigger commitment to quality to good training for jobs where people can support their families and be proud of the work they do.”
Labor leaders, contractors and local and state officials were in attendance at last week’s dedication. They included Hugh McVey, president of the Missouri AFL-CIO, St. Louis County Executive Charles Dooley, State Treasurer Clint Zweifel, State Attorney General Chris Koster, State Representative Tishaura Jones (D-St. Louis), State Senator Tim Green (D-St. Louis), St. Louis City Sheriff Jim Murphy and George “Butch” Welsch, past president and chairman of the Labor Committee of the local Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors Association (SMACNA).
SMACNA made a donation, which paid for audiovisual equipment and classroom furniture for the new training facility.
LEADING THE NATION
Welsch said St. Louis has led the country and will continue to do so in providing qualified, trained workers in the sheet metal industry.
“Up until a couple of years ago, when surveyed by national publications, sheet metal and air conditioning contractors responded that the biggest problem that they faced was a lack of qualified, trained personnel,” Welsch said. “That was pretty much universal throughout the country. But that has not been the case here in the St. Louis area, and this facility will help ensure that that situation will never be the case here in St. Louis.”
Zimmermann said the new facility would not have been possible without the committed partnership between Local 36 and its contractors.
“We work very, very close together to make sure that we stay on top of everything in the industry and that we remain competitive for our customers and do the best job out there,” Zimmerman said. “We could have never accomplished this building if they wouldn’t have agreed to take this step forward with us. They were at our side every step of the way.”