Saving A Site

STATE REP. Jack Cera was the bearer of good news for Eastern Ohio Monday.

The Bellaire native delivered a seven-figure message in Jefferson County in regards to the former RG Steel Steubenville plant. Cera announced that the Ohio Office of Budget and Management Controlling Board has approved the release of $1 million in Clean Ohio Assistance funds for the demolition of two blast furnaces, a boiler house and an annealing building at the site.

While it may not meet the hopes of countless laid-off steelworkers that the plant would someday re-open, it does mean a productive rebirth for an otherwise idled facility.

The funds also will be used for asbestos abatement at those structures. That will spawn the development of the venue by River Rail Development, a subsidiary of Strauss Industries.

The plan calls for a $15 million investment, creating an industrial park which will lead to 50 new jobs in the process. The industrial park will support the needs of metal recycling and shale gas operations.

That may be just the tip of the renaissance iceberg.

Additional jobs are expected as the property is redeveloped and leased. Property redevelopment is also expected to generate income and property tax benefits for the city as well.

As we view it, turning a brownfield site into an industrial operation is a masterful move. It is one that has endless possibilities as rail, highway and river access are all available.

If the projected timetable is accurate, construction of the facility will commence this summer, with the plant being operational sometime in 2014.

With the fate of several other steel plants in limbo, it is refreshing to see the state of Ohio stepping up in million-dollar fashion to help at least one.