Despite news that RG Steel's Sparrows Point plant has been sold to a liquidator, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz remains hopeful that steel production will resume at the storied mill.
"We believe that the core steel assets of RG Steel Sparrows Point continue to make this a viable business proposition," Kamenetz said in a statement issued Thursday. "A savvy buyer with access to the raw materials of steelmaking will find this an attractive investment, with a premiere location and a talented workforce ready to get the job done."
While Wednesday's auction sale of the local plant has been cloaked in mystery, reports state that Hilco Industrial, a company with a history of breaking down and liquidating failed manufacturing plants, bought the Sparrows Point facility for $72 million.
"Information about the sale is very hard to come by," county spokeswoman Frinda Cohen said Thursday. "These are very tense times—you can hear the frustration in people's voices, and the not knowing is the most difficult thing."
Union leaders are also hopeful that the plant will once again produce steel.
"We've been making steel here for 120 years, and we're not giving up," Joe Rosel, president of United Steelworkers International Local 9477, said in the statement. "We're still going to fight to find an operator for this plant. We are grateful for all of the support Baltimore County is giving our workers."
RG Steel filed for bankruptcy protection in May, causing the sale of its three plants in Sparrows Point; Warren, Ohio; and Wheeling, W.Va.
Even though no steel producers attended the New York auction that sold off RG's assets, Cohen said it is still possible that a company could come forward to purchase the plant with the intent to keep it in production.
Hilco officials have said they would delay any final liquidation for a little while to see if another buyer can be found, Cohen said.
Kamenetz also announced the creation of a new steelworkers career program that will allow laid-off steelworkers the opportunity to acquire new skills or build on existing ones; attain new professional certification; and receive re-employment assistance.
The new program will be funded through a $420,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Labor Licensing and Regulation.
The Baltimore County Council voted to accept the grant at its Aug. 6 meeting.