The ground breaking on V&M Star’s $650 million expansion marks the culmination of a project that has been more than 18 months in the making. The commencement of the expansion represents a “very historic, very special day” for the Valley, said U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles. “Things are starting to turn around here,” said Ryan, D-17th.
V&M Star’s $650M expansion gets rolling
By GRACE WYLER
The groundbreaking on V&M Star’s $650 million expansion marks the culmination of a project that has been more than 18 months in the making.
The commencement of the expansion represents a “very historic, very special day” for the Valley, said U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles, D-17th.
“Things are starting to turn around here,” said Ryan. “It is not just us [event dignitaries] that are recognizing it, it is people across the state and across the country.”
Ryan and other elected officials — including Gov. Ted Strickland, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown and the mayors of Youngstown and Girard — joined officials from V&M Star and its parent company, Vallourec, on Monday to celebrate the official start of construction on V&M’s new hot-rolling, seamless pipe mill here.
The mill will create 400 construction jobs and 350 permanent, full-time positions.
Strickland extolled the return of steelmaking to the Mahoning Valley and thanked V&M for its investment in the community.
“We are a steel state, and this is steel country,” Strickland said. “Steel is not just part of our history; it is our hope.”
The state has committed about $25 million to the expansion, which involves the annexation of 191 acres of Girard property into Youngstown and a $13.56 million railroad-relocation project.
Philippe Crouzet, chairman of the Vallourec Management Board, praised the private- and public-sector cooperation that made V&M’s expansion possible.
“Every aspect of our endeavor is coming together remarkably well,” Crouzet said. “There was an unprecedented collaboration between elected leaders, government professionals and the business community.”
The expansion will allow V&M Star to respond to the growing demands of its natural-gas customers in the Marcellus Shale, Crouzet said. The shale, a natural-gas formation the size of Greece located under Pennsylvania, New York, West Virginia and Ohio, could contain as much as 489 trillion cubic feet of recoverable gas.
“We are building the future in a market that has great opportunities,” Crouzet said. “V&M is well-positioned to serve as a bridge between this demand and supply.”
V&M’s confidence in the Mahoning Valley and its work force could herald a turning point for the region, said Girard Mayor James Melfi.
“Our economy has had its ups and downs,” Melfi said. “Maybe in our Valley’s history, yesterday was the bottom and today is the day we start our climb back up to the top.”
Youngstown Mayor Jay Williams lauded the collaboration that went into ensuring V&M Star’s expansion in the area.
“This is an example of public- and private-sector individuals putting aside past differences and working together,” Williams said. “I hope that this isn’t the last time we find ourselves together.”
The new mill will make tubular goods of a smaller diameter than those produced at V&M’s current mill here, said Ken Johnson, manager of the new mill. The fine-quality mill will allow V&M to better respond to the demands of Marcellus Shale customers.
Construction on the pipe mill will begin immediately and is set to be completed by the end of 2011, said Skip Herald, managing director of Vallourec North America.
Herald thanked representatives from Sumitomo Metal Industries present at the groundbreaking. The Japanese company is a minority partner in Vallourec’s North American endeavors and is providing capital investment for V&M Star’s projects, Herald said.
V&M Star will begin hiring for the mill’s 350 full-time positions over the next several months, Herald said.
The company will launch a website sometime in the next few weeks with details about the hiring process and the positions available.