Steel mill shows signs of reaching potential
For a variety of reasons, Trico Steel Co. never gave the local economy the boost expected from its 320 high-paying jobs, and the state-of-the-art mill eventually dissolved into bankruptcy.
The $100 million the state, county and city sank into the project as incentives to build in Morgan County looked like one gigantic white elephant. The dream of 2,000 second-tier support jobs never materialized, either.
Then came Nucor Steel Corp., riding its successful formula for operating mini mills and successfully competing with foreign companies and the big guys.
Nucor bought Trico in July 2002 and has steadily put the mill into shape and rekindled local hopes that those early predictions were not pipe dreams.
Nucor Steel Decatur announced late last week that it intends to invest another $150 million to $200 million in a plant that will galvanize steel to protect it better from corrosion. The new process will add about 75 employees to the present 600.
The company earlier acquired Worthington Steel's pickling and cold roll processing operation here and rehired its 110 employees, after the Ohio company's bad experience with Trico.
The galvanizing operation should boost company employment to near 700.
The plans are not final but are far enough along for the company to put out the word last week that it intends to expand.
Not only is it heartening to see the mill apparently on a course to reach its potential, it's among the few industries here that have significant expansions that actually create jobs.
The expansion means, of course, that Nucor officials are happy to be in Morgan County, happy with local workers and intend to stay for a while.
That's called stability, which every community needs and appreciates.