By FRANK LEWIS
PDT Staff Writer
A meeting to help get key players on the same page about a proposed steel plant on the border of Scioto and Lawrence counties is scheduled for this week in Portsmouth.
Bob Huff of Southern Ohio Growth Partnership had very little comment when asked about the meeting Friday, but did say state officials will be in Portsmouth to meet with Scioto County Commissioners and others, and that the meeting does concern a steel plant that has been involved in a discussion for nearly five years.
Scioto and Lawrence County commissioners, Southern Ohio Port Authority, the Lawrence Economic Development Corporation, and state officials will meet Thursday to discuss the progress of the plant, which could employ about 2,500 people if it is built.
One of those in attendance will be the company already dealing with the details of setting the project up, New Steel International, the development company, which owns the construction permits that have already been obtained to permit the building of the plant on 5,000 acres of land.
In the past, New Steel officials have been reluctant to talk about the project, since the original plan did not come to fruition after the Russian steelmaker MMK backed out of the project.
New Steel officials are unlikely to offer many new details Thursday.
“We are working very hard to make this project happen, and we always feel that publicity is not in our best interest until we have everything in place,” John Shultes, of New Steel International, said Saturday morning. “The commissioners in both counties have been very helpful. That’s basically what they still do. And we want to make sure everybody on the political side is fully engaged. That’s really what this meeting is all about.”
According to the Ironton Tribune, Lawrence County Commissioner Bill Pratt said a possible satellite industry could come with the location of a German-based foundry that forges 200-ton single pieces of steel mainly used in nuclear power plants.
That plant has long been in discussion, mainly behind closed doors in the Portsmouth area. It was the subject of a meeting that brought U.S. Sen. Rob Portman to Portsmouth last year. Officials involved in that project have remained hushed about it, not wanting to interrupt the flow of progress.
“All I can tell you right now is we have made a lot of progress since we last spoke,” Shultes said Saturday. “And we still feel we can get this back on track.”
The meeting is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Thursday at the Scioto County Courthouse.
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 232, or at email@example.com.