Hope for Local Steel Industry?
GRANITE CITY, Ill. (KMOX) – A pair of expected Commerce Department rulings and a future meeting with corporate leaders have at least one local official feeling more optimistic about the future of the local steel industry.
Returning from a trip to Washington D.C., Madison County Board Chairman Alan Dunstan says he’s seeing positive signs that steps are being taken to protect domestic steel from cheap, foreign imports.
For one, he says, more support for the Commerce Department and its efforts to reduce the amount of cheap steel being dumped into the market.
“Our Congressional delegation,” he says, “has been instrumental in putting a little bit more money into the Commerce Department to support some of these issues and giving them the tools to fight, to help them out a little bit.”
On Tuesday, the department is scheduled to rule on a steel-dumping case that Dunstan says could have an almost immediate impact.
“It automatically increases the price of the steel, through tariffs and that, which makes our steel more viable,” he says.
Dunstan says a similar ruling in December saved about 140 jobs at the Granite City plant, where 1,600 workers are currently laid off. He says another ruling, scheduled for March 14, would also be a step in the right direction.
But Dunstan and other local leaders aren’t just counting on the Commerce Department.
He says in the near future, they hope to meet with U.S. Steel officials to ask them to expand the type of steel manufactured at the Granite City plant.
“They produce one type of steel,” he says. “It’s mainly piping that’s used for oil drilling. As oil prices have gone down, it’s hit them also. What we’d like to see in the future is that the steel mill be reconfigured where it does other types of steel, like it used to the past, and it wouldn’t have these ups and downs.”
That meeting has not yet been scheduled.