The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

September 28, 2013

Businesses notice gain from recent turnaround at Lyondell

By Katie Dahlstrom
Assistant Editor

CLINTON — CLINTON — The 1,400 workers who made Clinton home during LyondellBasell's turnaround have mostly left, leaving behind a scattering of money-filled cash registers at area businesses.  

Around 2,000 workers performed periodic maintenance project at Lyondell, known by the industry term "turnaround," with around 75 percent being temporary workers.  

The influx of workers resulted in an estimated $379,480 being pumped into the local economy, Clinton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Carrie Donaire said. With the rollover, which CVB directors such as Donaire use to determine how those dollars are multiplied in the community, the impact reaches $2.3 million.

While some of the temporary workers came from within a 50-mile radius, a number came from different parts of the country, such as Washington or Maine, and needed places to sleep, eat and wash their clothes.     

Clinton Marina RV park manager Cindy Brackemeyer expected the campground to be filled with temporary workers from Lyondell, but that expectation never materialized.  

Turnaround was a mix for area hotels. While some reported beds were sparsely occupied by turnaround workers, others didn't have a room to spare.  

The Clinton Super 8 was at 100 percent capacity for more than three months, with 85 percent of the bookings turnaround related. Without the turnaround business, manager Tiphani Pruis said her hotel would have been just over 50 percent full.  

"It gave us a lot of business in town and the guys all said they had a great time and would spread the word. So it also meant a lot of good publicity for us," Pruis said. "They were great and it was nice to have a full hotel."  

Super 8 also enticed the long-term stayers by offering a $26.50 per night monthly rate as opposed to the typical $64.99 a night monthly rate.

Nearby bar Legend's felt the influx of workers. Manager Trish Humlick saw between 20 and 40 turnaround contractors a day during the week. She estimated more than 40 showed up for food and drinks every Friday.  

"It's been good. It brought in a lot of morning business and a lot of evening business," she said. "We expected it maybe to last a little longer, but it was great."  

The more than month-long stays carry a slight detriment. Normally the city and the CVB receive some of the tax from hotel and motel stays, but if someone is staying 29 days or more, the traveller gets that tax refunded rather than the tax going to the city and CVB.

Donaire's not losing sleep over the temporary loss of hotel/motel tax.  

"We'll have to adjust our marketing budget, but marketing is a creative field so it won't really hurt us from being able to promote our area," she said.

The bigger picture, the one that shows what Clinton can accommodate, has her attention.

"Our community should be very pleased that we can support an added workforce. And not just hotels, but other businesses like restaurants and Laundromats," Donaire said. "I think the other businesses and industries in town should be encouraged to know they can bring their temporary workforce here."  

Beyond, the benefit reaped by the Gateway area, the maintenance project also meant good things for Lyondell. Turnaround, which was expected to take around three months, is on track in both timeline and maintenance objectives.   

"This investment in our equipment will enhance the vitality of the facility," public relations manager Brent Connett said. "Our employees and contractors working at the plant have done a great job in making this a successful turnaround."