The Strength of Steel – Massive Impact and Plans for Growth

The Strength of Steel – Massive Impact and Plans for Growth

Indiana is the highest steel-producing state in the country, and some recent data and announcements indicate the state is poised to take its efforts even further. A few weeks ago, a new economic impact study was released that reflected Indiana’s steel industry has a total cumulative output of almost $56 billion when direct, supplier, and additional factors are considered. Then, just a few days later, one of the state’s largest producers announced a three-quarters-of-a-billion-dollar investment at its main Indiana facility – which was already considered the largest single steel production facility in North America (previously, it was the largest in the world).

How Big is Indiana’s Steel Industry?

The short answer is, Indiana’s steel industry is massive. To gain a full understanding of just how massive, one must first realize the industry produces an impact across several fronts: the direct impact, the impact created by industry suppliers, and the induced impact (other jobs supported by steel). Fortunately, new data from New York-based consultants John Dunham & Associates commissioned by the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) contained a clear breakdown of the various tiers.

Aside from the wages and jobs created by the steel industry, another way steel impacts the lives of Indiana citizens is through the large amount of tax revenue it generates. This, of course, is put to use in countless ways including infrastructure, public services, education, and so much more. When examined as a whole, the steel industry certainly could be considered a major public fundraiser.

Thomas J. Gibson, president and CEO of AISI, probably described the results of the study and importance of the industry best when he said, “The results illustrate why strong, pro-manufacturing policies are needed to ensure the sustainability of an industry with such an impactful employment base and robust economic footprint.”

$750 Million Upgrade to the Largest Mill in North America

Right on the heels of the economic report, there was some great news announced for Indiana’s steel industry. U.S. Steel’s Gary Works facility, the largest steel mill in North America and formerly the world, will be receiving a significant modernization. The company will be making a $750 million asset revitalization investment that will increase efficiencies and position the facility for long-term success.

The investments will be made over a period of five years. Work will include the installation of new, state-of-the-art production equipment, machinery, and modernizing technology to better serve customers in the automotive, energy, industrial, metal building components, home construction, appliance and container industries.

“We are pleased to be making this significant investment at Gary Works, which will improve the facility’s environmental performance, bolster our competitiveness and benefit the local community for years to come,” said David B. Burritt, president and CEO. “Through the skill and determination of our employees, support from the state and city, without which this project would not be possible, and favorable trade policies with the strong national security action on steel imports, we are experiencing a renaissance at U. S. Steel.”

Gary Works has been in operation in Northwest Indiana since 1908. Comprised of both steelmaking and finishing facilities, Gary Works has an annual raw steelmaking capability of 7.5 million net tons. The facility provides more than 3,800 full-time jobs and manufactures sheet products, strip mill plate in coils, and tin products. Company officials have stated the current investments likely won’t result in new jobs but will lead to the retention of the existing ones.

As a result of the company’s plans, state and local officials have offered an array of different incentives. The Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) will offer U. S. Steel up to $10 million in conditional tax credits over a 10-year period based on the company’s commitment to retain 3,875 Hoosier jobs. Also, the IEDC will offer up to $2 million in Skills Enhancement Fund (SEF) training grants to support workforce development and training for Gary Works employees.

Locally, the city of Gary plans to continue its longstanding partnership with U.S. Steel by also offering an incentive package. Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said, “This is consistent with our development plan which builds on our strong manufacturing history and allowing us to diversify commerce in the areas of education and medicine; recreation and gaming; logistics and technology.”

Gary will offer tax increment financing valued at approximately $35 million over 25 years based that will then be enriched through a development agreement in partnership with U.S. Steel to allow the city, the Gary Community School Corporation, the Gary Public Library, and U.S. Steel to share the benefit of the company’s investment. This incentive and economic development financing method will help generate immediate tax revenue for the city and create a Community Development Fund to further economic growth.

Things are Lookin’ Up

With the report reaffirming the massive impact of the steel industry in Indiana, and the news that the state’s largest producer is planning major investments, the industry is definitely on a high note in Indiana. Combined with the support of legislation launched this year to help the industry remain competitive, we could be seeing a major resurgence of steel throughout both Indiana and the Midwest.



Additional data tables from AISI