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WCI asks state for loan of 5M to buy new furnace



Published: Sat, December 2, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



The company, which has about 1,000 workers, is under new ownership.

By JEFF ORTEGA

VINDICATOR CORRESPONDENT

WARREN -- WCI Steel is asking the state for a 5 million low interest state-backed loan to buy a new steel reheating furnace.

On Monday, the State Development Financing Advisory Council is to consider the request. If approved by the council, the request must still be approved by the state Controlling Board.

Tim Roberts, a spokesman for the flat-rolled steel producer, said the reheating furnace, called a walking beam furnace, is used to reheat steel slabs for further processing.

"It will replace three pusher-style furnaces now in operation," Roberts said.

WCI announced in May that it plans to spend 36.7 million on the new machinery.

If the state-backed loan is approved, the project will also use company funds and other sources to pay for it.

Seven-year loan

Melissa Ament, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Development, said the proposed WCI Steel loan would be for a seven-year term.

The proposed loan would carry 1 percent interest in the first three years and 3 percent interest in the next four years.

In a related matter, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency said Friday that it is rescheduling a hearing on an air permit for the new furnace. The hearing had been scheduled for Tuesday but now will be at 3:30 p.m. Jan. 11 at the Warren Township administration building, 3765 W. Market St.

The company is also investing in a new baghouse system to meet federal air quality standards.

The company, which has about 1,000 workers, is under new ownership since it emerged from bankruptcy. Noteholders assumed ownership from the Renco Group of New York in May.




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