Diverse Economy

THE LOCAL steel industry received a much-need dose of good news Tuesday. It came in the form of an announcement that a new steel mill is in the works in Monroe County.

A unnamed company plans to invest $30 million into the venture. Should the project come to fruition, it would be a huge shot-in-the-arm to a county striving to expand its economic base.

With the fate of Ormet Corp. still hanging in the balance, a new steel mill cushions the blow if the aluminum producer is unsuccessful in its request for a rate reduction with American Electric Power.

A new steel plant also continues the diversification and expansion of the business climate in Monroe County. The new steelmaker is targeted to be built in the property that once housed Ormet’s rolling mill. The building also features several smaller companies that employ a total of nearly 300 people.

We view that as picking up the pieces and making the most out of a tough situation. The Hannibal Industrial Park, as it is called, is a 122-acre site owned by Hannibal Real Estate LLC. It purchased it from Ormet in 2007.

Monroe County’s economic diversification is not solely centered in the industrial park. Rather, Chesapeake Energy, Antero Resources, Magnum Hunter Resources, Gastar Exploration, Gulfport Energy and Chevron have set up shop in the county.

The economic broadbasing has been aided by the activation of the 12.2-mile Omal railway line in Monroe County. Expanded rail service can only help galvanize additional development.

Ormet, when operating at or near capacity, will always be the foundation of the Monroe County economy, regardless of how the Ormet plight plays out.

Monroe County’s economy is moving into new and diverse directions that will yield additional opportunities.