It’s ground-breaking day for Gerdau, the international steel company that’s renovating its St. Paul plant into a state-of-the-art, continuous-casting steel-making behemoth.
Gov. Mark Dayton and St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman will be among the speech-makers this morning, as they congratulate the company, and themselves, for the $50 million upgrade.
The plant is near the river, just off Hwy. 61 south of downtown.
Without the improvements, which come with some public sweetening (but nothing near a Vikings-like subsidy), there was a fear that the plant would become obsolete and eventually close.
The company, based in Brazil, is kicking in $50 million of its own money into major equipment improvements, while the St. Paul Port Authority has put up a $500,000 forgivable loan (if the company keeps 330 workers through 2015); the state also plans a $250,000 state forgivable loan and Xcel Energy is giving a break on electric rates.
For those keeping track, the company says the upgrade “will increase Special Bar Quality (SBQ) capacity by 100,000 short tons and increase the mill’s total capacity to 550,000 short tons.”
St. Paul officials are quick to credit a region-wide effort to keep the Gerdau plant in town, with a concerted effort by the Port Authority, the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce, Greater MSP, the state Chamber, the state’s DEED and Xcel Energy pulling the pieces together.
The company expects the plant to be up to speed with its new equipment by 2014.
Two Cities blog, which covers Minneapolis and St. Paul City Halls, is made possible in part by grants from The Saint Paul Foundation and the Carolyn Foundation.