Yes, but what do you make? Demystifying Louisiana’s chemicals companies – Industry & Technology

Yes, but what do you make? Demystifying Louisiana’s chemicals companies – Industry & Technology – Solutions Through Science

Tom Guarisco

Think about Beverly Smiley the next time you pop a movie into your DVD player or the next time you take a swig of ice cold milk from the refrigerator.

Think of her for keeping the person in front of you from sneezing on the buffet food, or for birthday balloon. All of those things were made possible because of chlorine and vinyl, two key products of Louisiana’s chemical industry.

Smiley is executive director of Solutions. Through Science, an education and community outreach arm of the industry.

“We organized to promote the industry and give information to the public and how it connects with the daily lives and the benefits that come out of the products that we use every day.”

Her goal is to help students and adults alike gain a better understanding of the plants that operate up and down the Mississippi River and how their products influence their lives.

“We’d like everyone to know,” Smiley says.

To that end, the group has expanded its Web site, www.stsla.org, and added a second interactive tour. Site visitors’ computer pointers bring up text about the various parts of a typical house and a hospital showing what’s made from vinyl and chlorine. The interactive tours are a kicked-up version of color brochures the group produced for students.

The funding for the site comes from Solutions Through Science and several trade organizations that deal in the industry, as well as the Louisiana Chemical Association.

The site also includes links to various members of the organization.

“I don’t think we know nearly enough about. the industry, and we ride past these industries and facilities all the time,” Smiley said. “It’s important that people know how much they depend on products that come out of our industry.”

Will Hins on, manager of legislative, community and public affairs for Georgia Gulf, who worked on the Web site, says it’s a revolutionary concept in the industry.

“This Web site bridges the gap between what goes on out here, in the technology environment, and these products that people are familiar with. It begins to make sense to them and has meaning to them. It can answer those questions that students ask: ‘Why would I want to work here?’

“The reaction I have gotten from those in the industry is that this is a very different Web site from what they are used to seeing. It’s a fun and interactive site. We were really excited about the opportunity to talk to the community outside the industry about what we do and make. I believe it speaks in layman terms about what is a very technical industry.”

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