Monroe to welcome steel plant

HANNIBAL – To support the burgeoning oil and natural gas industry, a company plans to invest $30 million for a new steel mill inside the building that once housed the Ormet Aluminum Rolling Mill.

As employees and retirees of Ormet Corp. wait to learn the fate of the Primary Aluminum Reduction Plant, the property that once housed the company’s rolling mill is now home to several smaller companies that employ a total of nearly 300 people, according to Monroe County Economic Development Director Jason Hamman.

“The shale industry has been a blessing to steel,” said Hamman, citing reports of mills that reopened in Youngstown, Ohio, to support the Marcellus and Utica shale drilling boom. “The drilling companies have to get their steel from somewhere.”

The 122-acre site that once featured the rolling mill is now known as the Hannibal Industrial Park, owned by Hannibal Real Estate LLC since the company purchased it from Ormet in 2007. Within 20 miles of the site in any direction, one will find companies such as Chesapeake Energy, Antero Resources, Magnum Hunter Resources, Gastar Exploration, Gulfport Energy, Chevron and others drilling and fracking wells.

Companies now operating at the park include Artco Group, which operates a heavy plate steel service center and a steel fabrication center geared to the oil and gas industry; Voith Hydro; Triple J Oilfield Services; Salvus Trucking; and McKees Rocks Industrial Enterprises.

“Because of the instability at Ormet, Monroe County needs to diversify its economy. We feel we are doing that,” said Hamman.

In July, the Ohio Rail Development Commission approved a $100,000 grant, as well as a $262,225 loan, for railroad construction and renovation at the park. According to the commission, Hannibal Real Estate is investing $30 million to place a steel rolling mill in the facility that once housed Ormet’s rolling mill. The new steel project should create about 50 jobs, Hamman said.

David Reid, managing director of Hannibal Real Estate, said he could not provide more specific information about the steel mill Tuesday, citing a confidentiality agreement.

This railroad grant follows the recent activation of the 12.2-mile Omal railway line in Monroe County. The Ohio Terminal Railway Co. will operate as a common carrier short line railroad connecting with the Norfolk Southern Railway.

Hamman said expanded rail service at the site should stimulate economic growth and development in Monroe County, while also supporting the existing manufacturing base.