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An option for more jobs
Nucor looking at land near planned galvanized steel facility for use of 5 or 6 customers

By Eric Fleischauer · 340-2430

Steel yourself, Decatur, for hundreds of new jobs.

Nucor Corp. is negotiating an option with the Decatur-Morgan County Port Authority for 60 acres adjacent to Nucor’s planned galvanized steel facility.

Morgan County Economic Development Agency President Jeremy Nails expects the 60 acres will hold five or six Nucor customers, each of which will employ between 30 and 60 employees.

That means between 150 and 360 employees. Nucor-Decatur’s controller, Chad Potter, would not confirm numbers Friday, saying it was premature.

Nucor is paying $25,000 for the option, which is renewable at the same cost for another year. The designated purchase price is $600,000. The Port Authority will deduct the option amount from the purchase price.

Nails said the sale price was “discounted a little bit” based on verbal negotiations that predated Nucor’s decision last year to locate a galvanized steel facility here. Potter said it was a mistake to assume the acreage was designated primarily for galvanized customers. Construction, just beginning, is expected to be complete in mid-2008.

The facility will produce 72-inch-wide sheet, 7 inches wider than is conventional. That extra width gives Nucor an edge when marketing its product to auto manufacturers and more flexibility in meeting unforeseen future markets for sheet steel. Nucor expects to have customers from the region’s burgeoning automotive assembly industry.

The optioned property, southwest of the planned galvanizing plant, is adjacent to and west of Boeing Co. and north of Alabama 20. It is south of Nucor’s existing 110 acres.

Nails said Nucor hopes to extend rail access to the property.

“All this was from verbal discussions,” Nails said, that took place in advance of Nucor’s decision to locate the galvanizing facility here.

Upon completion of the galvanizing facility, Nucor will add about 100 employees to the 630 it already has. The employees will make $75,000 a year, plus benefits. The company will also hire about the same number of contractors at about $40,000 per year. During the two-year construction period, there will be up to 300 construction jobs with a total payroll of $33 million.

Nucor is growing fast, and Decatur plays a significant part in that growth. Last week, at its fourth-quarter analyst conference, Nucor’s executive vice president, John J. Ferriola, said Alabama plants generated record 2006 earnings.

“A very special recognition,” he said, “goes to our Decatur team for going over 5 million man-hours — four years — without a lost-time accident.”

Decatur will be home to Nucor’s fourth galvanizing plant. Sixty percent of the company’s sheet metal capacity for 2007 was already under contract in late January.

The Decatur galvanizing facility will have a 500,000-ton annual capacity.

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