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The Journal Gazette

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Thursday, July 06, 2017 1:00 am

Steel Dynamics to add 'high-wage jobs'

33 positions part of $75 million upgrade in Columbia City

LISA GREEN | The Journal Gazette

Steel Dynamics will invest more than $75 million in its Columbia City plant, including equipment and infrastructure upgrades, state officials announced Wednesday.

The Fort Wayne-based company also plans to add up to 33 “high-wage jobs” by 2018, according to a news release from the Indiana Economic Development Corp.

The company currently employs about 3,400 full-time workers across the state, including 705 at its Columbia City facility at 2601 S. Whitley County Road 700 East, just north of U.S. 30.

Tricia Meyers, the company's investor relations manager, said production and maintenance jobs will be added. The company declined to disclose the pay ranges for those positions beyond the information it submitted to qualify for the state incentives.

The IEDC said in its news release the positions are expected to pay more than 50 percent above the state's average wage.

The IEDC offered Steel Dynamics up to $190,000 in training grants and up to $300,000 in conditional tax credits based on the company's expansion plans. The state said the incentives are performance-based, meaning until Hoosiers are hired and the investment is made, the company is not eligible to claim incentives.

Whitley County approved additional incentives at the request of the Whitley County Economic Development Corp.

Steel Dynamics is one of the largest domestic steel producers and metal recyclers in the United States based on estimated annual steelmaking and metals recycling capabilities. It operates facilities located throughout the U.S. and Mexico.

The company produces steel products, including hot roll, cold roll, coated sheet steel, structural steel beams and shapes, rail, engineered special-bar-quality steel, cold-finished steel, merchant bar products, specialty steel sections and steel joists and deck.

Indiana Secretary of Commerce Jim Schellinger said the state's “pro-growth business climate” and skilled workforce allow companies like Steel Dynamics to continually expand.

The investments create quality jobs and solidify “Indiana's status as home to the largest concentration of manufacturing jobs in the nation,” Schellinger said in a statement.

Indiana, he said, has more than 8,500 manufacturing businesses.

The $75 million investment into Steel Dynamics' Columbia City facility will add new rolling equipment, buildings for storage, site grading, drainage and road improvements. Construction is expected to start in the third quarter of this year, Meyers said, and is scheduled for completion in the fourth quarter of 2018.

In late April, Steel Dynamics reported first-quarter earnings of $201 million, or 82 cents per diluted share, a fourfold increase from the $63 million, or 26 cents a share, posted for last year's first quarter. The company's net sales were $2.37 billion, almost a 36 percent increase over the period ended March 31, 2016.

At the time, Steel Dynamics CEO Mark Millett credited the financials with increasing demand for larger, public-sector infrastructure projects and steady business from the auto sector.