Less than a week after Gov. Bobby Jindal and Mayor Mitch Landrieu held a joint press conference in downtown New Orleans to announce that GE Capital would be building an "information technology center" in New Orleans — adding an estimated 300 jobs by 2015 — Landrieu got some bad news on the jobs front. After a five-month study, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has decided to close its large mail-processing center on Loyola Avenue by the end of May. Mail processing and sorting for the New Orleans region will move to Baton Rouge. A post office in Lafayette will also close as part of the south Louisiana consolidation.
For months now, Landrieu and other public officials have been fighting the closure, which the mayor says will affect 880 workers. Last September, he said, "It does not make sense to pull public jobs out of this booming corridor where we're leveraging public investments in the streetcar to attract over $1 billion in private investments and development." (The mail-processing center is on the new Loyola Avenue streetcar line, which is currently under construction.) Landrieu also held a public meeting in November in an attempt to convince the USPS to keep the facility open.
In a statement, Landrieu said he would continue to fight the closure: "We will continue to fight this ill-advised decision, which fails to consider all the factors that will impact future mail delivery costs and the needs of southern Louisiana."
The USPS aspires to eliminate more than 200 processing facilities across the nation. In a statement issued regarding all the closures, USPS CEO Megan Brennan wrote, "Consolidating operations is necessary if the Postal Service is to remain viable to provide mail service to the nation." Some of the current USPS employees will be offered transfers to other postal offices, but the number of jobs lost in New Orleans is still unclear. — Kevin Allman