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Good intentions alone won’t restart RG Steel



Published: Tue, September 11, 2012 @ 12:00 a.m.

There’s a glimmer of hope today that the RG Steel plant in Warren will reopen — given the announcement by the new owner that a key piece of equipment will be saved, and that the facility will be winterized.

Charles Betters of Monaca, Pa., came to the Mahoning Valley last week and met with workers and political and business leaders with a commitment to do all he can to find someone who knows how to run a steel plant. Betters’ company, C.J. Betters Enterprises, is in the demolition business with Independence Excavating. One of their projects was a tin mill in Aliquippa, Pa.

But while conceding that he does not have the experience in operating a steel mill, the new owner did offer a poignant observation that should give hope to the more than 1,000 workers who have been laid off.

“I came from Aliquippa,” Betters said. “I saw the same thing [a closed steel mill] happen. I know it doesn’t feel good. … Remember this day. I know what the jobs mean. I get it. If we’re lucky enough to get a restart, perform.”

As an indication of his commitment to the plant’s future, Betters said he and his lawyers spent weeks in bankruptcy court, where the future of RG Steel rests, working to resolve an issue pertaining to the mill’s boiler.

ArcelorMittal, which runs the coke plant next to the Warren mill, has an option to buy the boiler. If it does, the plant’s future will be sealed — shut.

Betters said he and his partners, Independence Excavating of Cleveland and Grouse Ridge Capital of Butler, Pa., have a lot of “informational resources” to enable them to connect with a group that could run the mill. The bankruptcy court has approved Betters’ purchase of the RG Steel facility for $16 million.

Since Betters was first identified as the new owner, there have been persistent rumors that he intended to cannibalize the plant and also to sell the mineral rights for oil and gas exploration.

He addressed those rumors by saying that while demolishing it would be more profitable and that he and his partners could conceivably triple their investment, they remain committed to seeing the plant operating again.

As he has done in the past, Betters delivered a “we’re all in this together” message to Valley residents.

“We’re going to need some luck, support from labor and management,” and help from the state, he said.

Economic impact

Given the number of jobs that are at stake and the economic impact on the city of Warren, in particular, and the Valley, in general, if the plant is shut down permanently, the federal government must also get involved.

We would urge the Obama administration to send in a team of experts to not only evaluate the facility, but to work with Betters and his partners in finding a company to make steel again.

The new owner said he would be willing to sell the facility to someone who wants to reopen it, or would stay on as a partner.

President Obama, a Democrat, and Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, should set aside their political differences and join forces in developing an economic incentive package that would facilitate the reopening of the RG Steel mill.


Comments

1georgejeanie(887 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

Get over it people, the mill is antiquated and can not compete in the global economy. If this mill is upgraded it will not be run by 1000 workers, probably 200 to 300, maybe. And then when you get Obama involved the Lord only knows what that will cost the taxpayer per job saved. But in the minds of liberals they do not see that as a cost, just print more money with nothing to backup the paper that it is written on.

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2picturethis(18 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

Dear above comment:
Nothing personal, but I must dispute your comment regarding the mill and it not being up to date! Get the facts before printing LIES. Unless you've been inside and know what the machinery can do, you need to STIFLE! RG Steel broke a tonage record 2 weeks before they closed their doors. Greed is what shut this steel mill down. Every other mill is running 95-100%, our order books were full before June '12. Customers were complaining about where they were going to get that quality of steel from anywhere but us. Agreed, we might not need 1000 workers to run it, however, these are the types of jobs our country needs! Ask your local car dealerships, Harley dealerships, resturaunts who buys from them??? Praying this new owner does the right thing, not the easy thing. This place has ALWAYS made money-F.A.C.T. Look up Ira Rennert's house in the Hamptons -this is what our mill bought for him! One of the funny things is, the only time we got a profit sharing was when we were in a bankruptcy and that's because the courts made the company open the books. So, greed shut the mill down. All take and no give - not for the workers, but for upkeep and repairs. We had to put in our labor contracts that the company had to put so much money back into the plant and that was one of the most difficult things for the company to agree on! Because they wanted their money NOW, not five years from now. Greed. Greed closed the mill. Let's reopen the mill. Give people back their jobs, their lives, and the contractors need their jobs too, Diamond Steel, Iron Worker locals, Warren City, Glunt, AVI, and all the numerous other companies that provided services for us. So isn't just the Steelworkers that lose out if this place closes....

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