Ohio steel mills growing at fastest rate in 30 years to meet the demand in energy and auto industries


Artist’s rendering of the V&M plant when construction is complete

Canton Ohio — The Ohio steel industry, led by a drilling boom in the gas and oil industry and a resuscitated demand for cars and light trucks, is growing again. Steel makers across the state are racing to keep pace with plans to add a total of two million square feet of production space at a cost of $1.5 billion.

At the Timken Company’s mill here on Faircrest Street, orders for steel from domestic and export markets plunged so low in May 2009 that the plant operated just four days that month. Nearly three years later, with demand for steel soaring and the Faircrest mill operating around the clock, Timken has started building a $200 million, 83,000-square-foot addition that will increase the plant’s production.

“The need for specialty steel, much of it for oil and natural gas producers, is high in the United States and around the world,” said Salvatore J. Miraglia Jr., the president of Timken’s steel group. “We see demand in that market continuing to be healthy for quite some time.”

Yup. The United States is producing more oil and natural gas than in any of the previous 14 years. You can ignore the Republican hacks who say it ain’t so.

That optimism is reflected in Timken’s new building, which will rise 26 stories high and will sharply expand the plant’s capacity to cast steel billets to be made into parts for drilling platforms, heavy equipment, and other oil and gas industry tools. Two other new buildings also are under way at the 27-year-old mill, one of which will house a new forge press and a facility where minerals and other compounds that strengthen finished steel will be added to molten metal.

In October, United States Steel opened a $100 million, 325,000-square-foot mill at its Lorain plant to manufacture steel pipe for the drilling industry. Vallourec & Mannesmann, a French company, is completing a $650 million, 1.1 million-square-foot steel pipe mill in Youngstown, and is building a separate 200,000-square-foot mill nearby to add threads to the pipes. Both plants serve the oil and gas sector.

United States Steel is collaborating with a Japan-based partner, Kobe Steel, to build a $400 million, 454,000-square-foot addition to what is known as the Pro-Tec plant in Leipsic, south of Toledo, to serve the growing market for high-tensile lightweight steel used by makers of fuel-efficient vehicles.

We haven’t had this kind of expansion in steel since the 1980s,” said Eric Burkland, the president of the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association. “It’s a tremendous turnaround.”

When all the projects are completed this year and next, those plants alone are expected to add roughly 630 new manufacturing jobs. The unemployment rate in Ohio was 7.5 percent in March, below the 8.2 percent national rate in March, and down from a statewide peak of 10.6 percent in July 2009…

Romney will send them an email overnight to shut up about the progress being made under the Obama administration.

The funniest part is that while half the success comes from bills and executive orders Obama has managed to squeak past Congressional roadblocks. The other half derives from policies put in place by the Federal Reserve and Ben Bernanke. Another Republican who concentrates more on helping this nation and its citizens – than the ideologues in that political party will ever give him credit for.

Extreme poverty is up during the first decade of the millenium

The number of people living in neighborhoods of extreme poverty grew substantially, by one third, over the past decade, according to a new report, erasing most of the gains from the 1990’s when concentrated poverty declined.

More than 10 percent of America’s poor now live in such neighborhoods, up from 9.1 percent in the beginning of the decade, an addition of more than 2 million people, according to the report by the Brookings Institution, an independent research group…

The report analyzed Census Bureau income data from 2000 to 2009, the most recent year for which there is comprehensive data.

The data captures the first part of the decade most clearly, when growth in concentrated poverty was highest in metropolitan areas in the Midwest. Of the neighborhoods where poverty became most acute, three were Midwestern: Toledo, Youngstown and Detroit.

The report estimated that in metropolitan areas, worsening economic conditions in 2010 may have bumped up the portion of those living in concentrated poverty metro areas to 15 percent, a notch below the 1990 level, 16.5 percent. The biggest rises were in Sun Belt areas like Cape Coral, Fla., and Fresno, Calif., where the housing bust was biggest…

It’s the toughest, most malignant poverty that we have in the United States,” said Peter Edelman, the director of the Center on Poverty, Inequality and Public Policy at Georgetown University. “It’s bad outcomes reinforcing each other.”

Just one more thing the Bush/Cheney era can take credit for.