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Steelmaker execs meet hundreds, discuss plans in Alabama community

MOUNT VERNON (AP) — Nearly 500 residents braved an evening thunderstorm to attend an open house hosted by ThyssenKrupp AG at the Mount Vernon Community Center.

Some residents came looking for jobs Monday, others wanted answers about the $3.7 million steel mill's potential affect on rural life. The German steelmaker is clearing trees on a 3,565-acre site in unincorporated Calvert, a few miles north on U.S. 43, to make way for one of the biggest industrial projects in the world.

ThyssenKrupp announced plans in May to build a mill that will employ 29,000 construction workers over the next three years and 2,700 full-time steelworkers when it opens for production in early 2010.

Bob Soulliere, president of ThyssenKrupp Steel and Stainless USA, said the company has spent the past few weeks evaluating the site and setting up a project management office in Mobile.

"You haven't heard a lot from us since we made the announcement, but we've been busy," Soulliere said to a crowd that spilled out of the community center. "We promised when we came here that we'd be a great partner in your community. Today is an exciting step for all of us."

Jobseekers and potential suppliers who attended the event were steered to the company's Web site. Those with concerns about noise and pollution was assured the mill would meet air and water quality regulations. Company officials also told them that noise levels would be minimal beyond the plant's boundary.


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