Residents of Dundalk, Baltimore and beyond got some of the best economic news of the past few years: Owners of the Sparrows Point Steel Mill sold its plant —a move that could provide good-paying jobs for return employees, unemployed and underemployed Marylanders.
Russian-owned OAO Severstal announced March 2 that it would sell its three steel companies to The Renco Group for an estimated $1.2 billion, making Renco the fourth largest flat roll steel producer in the country.
It’s fantastic news for everyone who depends on the historic Sparrows Point Steel Mill for their paycheck in this down economy. Severstal had recently laid off almost half of its workers, sparking understandable anxiety among the remaining employees.
Stability is perhaps the most important ingredient to an economic recovery, as companies and business owners will hesitate at the first signs of uncertainty in the marketplace. With news of The Renco Group’s purchase—expected to be finalized later this month—job opportunities could soon open up at Sparrows Point. This could be a major contributor to our state’s steady fiscal recovery that has benefited by an uptick in job creation.
The Renco Group’s purchase grabbed the attention of lawmakers throughout Annapolis.
“The announcement … that RG Steel Inc. has agreed to purchase the Sparrows Point mill from Severstal holds the promise that the plant’s long tradition of manufacturing and steel production—and of providing jobs with family-supporting wages—will continue,” Governor Martin O’Malley said in a statement, adding that the transaction would also help retain jobs that were on shaky ground. “We welcome [The Renco Group] and its headquarters to Maryland and stand ready to help the company and the United Steelworkers return, retrain and retain nearly 2,000 steelworkers in Sparrows Point.”
Maryland had a 25 percent increase in new and expanding business investments in 2010, worth a total of $4 billion, according to the latest report from our state’s department of business and economic development. That investment influx generated about 15,000 new jobs statewide.
The economic report held other signs of better fiscal days ahead. Maryland’s unemployment rate remains among the lowest in the country at a little more than 7 percent, and the number of Marylanders who applied for unemployment benefits has dropped to its lowest level since May 2008, according to state statistics.
The good news from Sparrows Point is great news for our community. I fully expect The Renco Group’s investment to bring a new level of stability to our local steel mills that has been missing since Bethlehem Steel declared bankruptcy a decade ago. I would encourage any constituent having a tough time finding a job to keep a close eye on Sparrows Point as it brings new—and much needed—opportunity to our neighborhoods.
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