ArcelorMittal has entered an agreement to sell its steel rod mill in Georgetown to Liberty House Group, a London-based company.
The companies announced the agreement in a news release Friday morning. Liberty is expected to bring the steel mill back into production.
“Our agreement in principle with ArcelorMittal opens the door to the eventual restoration of several hundred jobs, both directly and in the supply chain, and it gives this region’s economy a new industrial focus,” Sanjeev Gupta, the executive chairman of Liberty, said in the statement.
James Sanderson, the president of United Steel Workers Local 7898 union, said he expects that 300 to 350 jobs could come back to the mill.
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Hiring for direct and contractor positions should begin, he said, “probably the first part of June. It’s gonna move fast.”
The announcement comes after the city of Georgetown had made a push to redevelop the site, which would include rezoning the land to block industrial uses.
Sanderson was opposed to the move.
“I think the wise thing that our city government leaders should do here in Georgetown is withdraw that zoning request,” Sanderson said.
But Mayor Jack Scoville told The Sun News that he’s still in favor of the zoning change, which will have a public hearing on Tuesday. If passed, Liberty would have a window of a year to begin operating the mill before the zoning kicks in.
“I think everyone would agree that if they’re not up and running in a year, there’s something wrong,” Scoville said.
He said the rezoning is not meant to block the new owners, but insure against another failure at the plant, which has stopped production and traded hands several times in the last decade.
“We look forward to working with Liberty on their project. Hopefully they will be successful where these other companies have not been,” Scoville said. “If not, we’ll have the zoning in place and we’ll be able to transition to some other use if it does shut down again.”
The rezoning will likely come to a first reading at city council’s next meeting, Scoville said.