Hennepin Steel Mill Sold

Image courtesy of the News Tribune
A new Michigan company has acquired the former LTV Steel property and may raze the property for commercial use other than for a steel mill, sources told the NewsTribune this morning.

Putnam County officials and former steel workers rejoiced about a published report the longtime steel mill had been purchased, though the property transfer has not been recorded and is not yet part of the public record.

“I’m optimistic about the jobs coming in and what it means for the county,” said Duane Calbow, chairman of the Putnam County Board and vice president of United Steelworkers Local 7367, Hennepin, “I’m hoping to meet with them and find out their plans.”

Calbow cited an announcement by U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) to the Peoria Journal Star that the steel plant had been sold to a company identified as IPS Steel of Michigan.

That the company name includes the word “steel,” however, may not mean there will be steel operations in Hennepin.

“The company is newly organized and they don’t have existing steel operations, those two things I’m certain of,” said Marc Marquis of Marquis Energy LLC.

“The Journal-Star article read like it would be reopened as a steel mill. I don’t believe that to be the case. I’ve talked to a number of people with different levels of involvement. It is my expectation that they are going to scrap the copper and the steel and raze the building.”

Hennepin Mayor Coleman said recent reports of the sale of the mill, which housed Arcelor Mittal, LTV and J&L steel operations for half a century, are correct. However, most details of the sale were uncertain to him and to sources at the Putnam County Courthouse.

“No deed was recorded at the courthouse this morning,” said Kay Rue, office associate of Tamara Mahalic, Putnam County Assessor. “We can’t give an assessed value because we don’t know what was purchased.”

Nancy Mattingly, working in the office of Kevin Kunkel, county treasurer, was unable to give any information on the assessed tax value currently. There are 25 parcel numbers associated with the facility.

“I believe there are multiple parcels for the building,” Mattingly said. The tax bills currently go to ISG Hennepin Inc. in East Chicago, Ind.

Coleman said Schock has been working on behalf of Putnam County even though his district no longer includes the county. Coleman said he was unsure the number or kind of jobs that will come from IPS, the reported purchaser, but that more information would be available in the coming week. Coleman also said he signed a confidentiality agreement.

Regardless, it came as positive economic-development news.

“We are working with several promising projects in the area and this is very good news and hopefully the beginning of great things to come,” said Scott Stavrakas, president of Illinois Valley Area Chamber of Commerce.

Schock told the Journal Star he and his office had worked alongside local, state and federal officials as well as members of the steelworkers local to find a buyer since shortly after he took office in 2009. 

Schock told the Journal Star he was unaware of any federal incentives being offered to IPS. Rather, IPS was attracted by the skilled workforce, transportation systems — the mill is on a rail line, near the Illinois River and is the reason four-lane spur from Interstate 180 leads to Hennepin.

Former steelworkers and managers at the Hennepin plant said they were uncertain what “IPS Steel” is. Precisely what type of manufacturing will be done by IPS of Michigan in the massive building and the number of jobs was not immediately clear.

“We are very excited with the purchase of this facility and look forward to working with the local community and officials to bring back business and jobs to this area” said IPS project manager Kishan Sutariya told the Journal Star in a statement.

Arcelor Mittal had operated the rolled steel mill at Hennepin until 2009, when it not only closed but the multinational company removed much of the equipment for storage or use in its overseas plants or sale. When it closed, Arcelor Mittal employed 245 people; 25 stayed on and followed company orders in the shutdown.

Source: News Tribune