The Citizens' Report

South Carolina => Georgetown County SC => Politics and Current Events => Topic started by: JW on June 24, 2020, 05:46:44 PM

Title: Will the steel mill ever start back
Post by: JW on June 24, 2020, 05:46:44 PM
Now that the silly season for politics is over and things are back open from the COVID does anyone know if the steel mill will start back up. Rumor at the union hall is they will stay closed until next year?
Title: Re: Will the steel mill ever start back
Post by: IWCCTTT on June 26, 2020, 03:50:06 PM
No news coverage of that story? Wonder why. Maybe everyone hopes if we all keep quite it will never start back up and trash our city again?
Title: Re: Will the steel mill ever start back
Post by: Tom Rubillo on June 28, 2020, 01:31:06 PM
If I were advising the owners (which I'm not), I'd suggest salvaging and re-selling as much equipment as possible, taking down all the buildings, and clearing the land as a first step.  After reviewing the conceptual plan for the property that the city sponsored a few years ago, once the land is cleared, all the metal from the buildings sold as scrap and the site is ready, I'd suggest that the owners either offer the mill's property for sale to potential developers or "build to suit" for investors on a long term lease, either singly or in partnership with the Ports Authority to market that agency's land as part of a package too.  Mill mangers might also find that the city would be receptive to paying a million or more to purchase the mill's office building for use as a new city hall.  Meanwhile, the and the Port's Authority really should explore the mutual advantages and potential associated with annexation of the port's property into the city limits.
Title: Re: Will the steel mill ever start back
Post by: IWCCTTT on June 30, 2020, 05:54:01 PM
I wish you would advise the mill owners Mr. Rubillo. The time has come to finally rid our town of that blight. The pollution from the mill and the union. Georgetown has so much potential but will never see it until we turn the corner from the old ways and the mill.
Title: Re: Will the steel mill ever start back
Post by: forklift driver on July 02, 2020, 11:13:25 AM
The union president's son is still getting paid full time according to a person who hangs out at the hall.
Title: Re: Will the steel mill ever start back
Post by: JW on July 03, 2020, 09:43:10 AM
Real quite on Front Street this morning. No steel mill noise. No tourists. Nothing going on. You could fire a cannon down Front Street and hit no one.
Title: Re: Will the steel mill ever start back
Post by: Tom Rubillo on July 04, 2020, 10:49:30 AM
It is time to actually visualize the future.  Be realistic.  The steel mill is an old, outdated facility.  It will take a very large investment of money, time and effort to update it to make it competitive, assuming, of course, that the domestic steel industry will ever be very competitive again.  That's a very big gamble.  Meanwhile, the property on which the mill is located and the adjoining lands owned by the Port's Authority are among the potentially most valuable waterfront properties available for development on the east coast of the United States.  Visualize all of that land as cleared of the buildings now on the whole site and ready for development.  The entire property is within the boundaries of Senator Scott's economic enterprise zone, a big tax loophole intended to repatriate US dollars stashed abroad by the rich to avoid taxes.  They can bring that money back and reinvest it here without penalty (hint, hint to those with big bucks abroad who are living lavishly in Georgetown's gated communities at the beach and in its old plantations along the rivers).  Half of that property -- the steel mill part -- is already within the city limits.  As mentioned earlier, while not binding on anyone, a professional study of the highest and best use of that part of the property has already been completed and can be reviewed to get ideas. 

The Ports Authority land is presently not within the city limits.  Be that as it may, the truth of the matter is that it is simply a mostly vacant eyesore.  Sitting in the very middle of the city right next to Highway 17, it is highly visible, but a nonetheless little more than a blight on the entire community.  Its presence, I believe, does nothing to advance the interests of the community but, instead, is one of the very large liabilities that discourages visitors and investors to spend or invest in Georgetown.  At the same time, both the Port's Authority and the State of South Carolina stand to profit handsomely from redevelopment of their property, whether annexed into the city (which I advocate) or not. 

And lastly, to those with big egos who hold public office, successful redevelopment of the entire stretch along the Sampit from Wood Street and winding around to the Sylvan Rosen Bridge would not only be a tremendous feather in Senator Scott's hat, there would be enough adulation to spread around, creating a very notable legacy for whichever local office holders spurred things along.  Who knows, they might even get their portraits displayed in the new city hall.

Come on folks, especially you elected officials. Get off your lazy asses and get to work.  The future won't wait.  It is coming right at you.

The future ain't over yet.  It belongs to you.   
Title: Re: Will the steel mill ever start back
Post by: JW on July 08, 2020, 11:02:46 AM
What Tom Rubillo fails to understand is the mill is going no where. Until someone takes a stand and challenges the current owners to either run the mill or shut it down we will sit here looking at a ugly mess of pollution.
Title: Re: Will the steel mill ever start back
Post by: Tom Rubillo on July 08, 2020, 04:56:50 PM
JW:  I don't fail to understand.  You have emphasized what is is exactly my point.  Until our elected leaders take a stand and start to move things forward, nothing happens.  But when they do, progress is made.  In another posting I complimented Mayor Barber for persuading the steel mill to tear down the unused and rusting towers, etc. on the Wood to Dozier stretch of the site.  Seeing the potential profit in doing just that, they tore down the structures, scrapped the metal and started to clean the place up some.  That's progress.  Now what the owners need to understand is that the clock is ticking on their heavy industrial use of the property.  They have stopped producing steel.  That triggered the one year time period for the resumption of production.  There are no loopholes stopping that.  There is no labor dispute to toll the clock for them.   Save another revision of the ordinance (which would take an unacceptable level of cowardice by the city council during an election year for the mayor and three  council members), the mill will be barred from going back into operation once the present shut down runs for more than a year.  Sooner or later reality will have to take over, both for mill owners and for local politicians.  Meanwhile, I'm trying to gently prod things forward.  I regret that I haven't be clear enough to make what I've been up to apparent to even the most casual reader. 

The real question here is just how long are mill owners going to continue to pay a skeleton crew to keep an eye on things, their electric bill, whatever they pay in lieu of property taxes and the like, based on the very speculative prospect that the domestic steel industry is going to make a comeback at any point in time during the next six months or so (what they have remaining under the one year limit in the present ordinance) to be able to make a profit.  Liberty Steel isn't a non-profit charity.  It is not a creature controlled by the union.  It is a business.  It is run by adults, not children.  They understand quite clearly that for the mill they own to survive it has to make a profit.  Now, if its owners have enough money that they can afford to piss away the value of this otherwise potentially profitable piece of real estate indefinitely, well, good for them, but I seriously doubt that they are so careless or indifferent with their money.  Folks don't get really, really wealthy by pissing away money or by speculating on whether Donald Trump or anyone else can keep a campaign promise to revive the domestic steel industry given the state of the world economy either now or in the reasonably foreseeable future.  Sorry to say it, but the steel industry isn't coming back for small producers like Liberty Steel and Winyah Bay isn't going to be dredged so that the Port of Georgetown can reopen   Those ships have sailed. 

So, elected officials -- Senator Scott, Rep. Rice, Senator Sabb, Rep. Anderson, Mayor Barber, City and County Council members, damn it, get to work.  You aren't important people.  It is the responsibility of the offices that you hold, the people and the future that are important.  if you want a legacy as a do nothing, know nothing, say nothing, seat warmer, just continue to sit on your asses.  Brendon Barber has shown you what's possible by starting the clean up process.  Give him a hand.  DO SOMETHING!!!!!.  There, that plain enough for you JW?
Title: Re: Will the steel mill ever start back
Post by: JW on July 12, 2020, 10:51:08 AM
I had a chance to ask Ron Charlton about the steel mill. He said it's time for that to be decided once and for all. He said he has the backing of three other County council people to start a committee to work with the owners to sale the property and tear down the mill. Since he is on the way out he may just have the will to make this happen.
Title: Re: Will the steel mill ever start back
Post by: Tom Rubillo on July 12, 2020, 11:17:17 AM
JW  I hope you're right.  It is time to focus on the future.  The past is over, but the future ain't.
Title: Re: Will the steel mill ever start back
Post by: forklift driver on July 18, 2020, 03:00:16 PM
More dismantling over the past week. Are they going to announce the permanent closure soon?
Title: Re: Will the steel mill ever start back
Post by: forklift driver on July 31, 2020, 10:21:44 AM
Even the "GAB" blogger is now admitting the mill is still closed and will not open as the union leader said. Let me quote for you Mr. Sanderson, " Liberty Steel Group in Georgetown will remain shuttered with no timeline when it will reopen." I wonder if the "GAB" blogger would ask Mr. Sanderson why his son is still employed at the mill while the rank and file dues paying union members are on unemployment.

Liberty Steel’s Georgetown mill remain closed but for how long is unknown.
Back in late April, company officials announced the mill was shutting down for three months due to the COVID 19 pandemic and its economic impact on the steel industry.
That three months passed this week with the mill still idle and most of its 130 workers continuing to be without a job.
Today, the mill’s owner -- GFG Alliance – announced the closure is being extended.
Citing “ongoing challenging market conditions,” Liberty Steel Group in Georgetown will remain shuttered with no timeline when it will reopen.
In a statement, Andrew Mitchell, head of U.K. communications for GFG, said the mil is “continuing to operate its ‘care and maintenance’ regime due to ongoing challenging market conditions.”
That means a very small number of workers will continue with maintenance inside the mill.
Any orders for steel that are received will be filled at the GFG-owned plant in Peoria, Ill.
Company leaders say they are anticipating a reopening within the next three months.
Liberty Steel came to the area in 2018 after the mill sat idle for three years. According to the company’s website, the mill has a capacity to make 750,000 tons of steel per year.
Title: Re: Will the steel mill ever start back
Post by: IWCCTTT on July 31, 2020, 12:15:34 PM
I hope Tom Rubillo can answer this question. How long does the mill get to stay closed before the rezoning kicks in and we can tear it down?
Title: Re: Will the steel mill ever start back
Post by: IWCCTTT on July 31, 2020, 12:26:17 PM
Even the former fire chief for the city Bill Johnson agrees. Bill posted this on facebook.

Bill Johnson
This doesn't have anything to do with City Council. Way back in 2019 the mill knew it would have to close. And, beyond any decision by the Planning Commission or City Council they DID! It's time to abandon ALL the attempts to reopen it!

I would say they already abandoned it before this time even.
Title: Re: Will the steel mill ever start back
Post by: Tom Rubillo on July 31, 2020, 03:37:26 PM
When the mill does not operate for 365 consecutive days it cannot restart.  The question is when did the clock start running.  It closed due to COVIS (it says) around April 23rd.  That's the latest date I can find for when the clock started ticking.  Production records may reflect an earlier date.     According to press reports, mill owners originally asked the city to revise the zoning ordinance to remove the 365 day restriction.  After meeting with city officials, it withdrew that request.  At the time they were talking about investing 25 million to upgrade equipment.  From the news accounts it sounds like some sort of "understanding" resulted in the steel mill withdrawing its request for an amendment of the zoning ordinance and removal of the 365 consecutive day restriction. But no matter what "understanding" they might have, the time limitation is still in place.  Ordinances cannot be (and are not) amended by "understandings," no matter who participated in discussions leading to them.  Changes to the zoning ordinance can only be made by the amendment process.  There is a formal process involved in amending or changing the zoning ordinance.  Proposals or requests for changes, relief from restrictions or limitations by way of variance on use must have to be taken up first by the Planning Commission and/or Board of Appeals (depending on what is being requested).  There is no executive or administrative authority to change, alter, agree or "understand" anything else.

The ultimate outcome here is going to be driven by economic reality, not wishful thinking, bullying, or political sleights of hand.   If the mill does not produce steel for 365 consecutive days, it dies.  Simple as that.  Ask those that used to work there when production of steel stopped and mark your calendar for that date.  Meanwhile, also keep in mind that there is a municipal election in 2021 in which a majority of the members of city council (the mayor and three council members) will have to face the voters.  Economic realities, particularly regarding the prospects of resurgence by the American steel industry, will be a lot clearer by then.  So will the willingness of mill owners to keep their word and invest 25 million in new equipment in an old, rusting and outdated industrial facility on the speculative possibility that they'll be able to recoup their investment and make a profit.  Wishful thinking won't answer that question.  Bullying won't change reality.  Blaming the messenger won't either.    It is their money.  How wise or foolish mill owners will be with their money remains to be seen.  Meanwhile, the clock is ticking and there is are elections coming up that will have a big bearing on the future, both nationally and, much more to the point here, locally next year.  Stay tuned.
Title: Re: Will the steel mill ever start back
Post by: Amazing2Me2 on July 31, 2020, 05:01:17 PM
Other than not operate, is there any other legal requirement from Liberty? If they do not have the money to invest to clear & develop that property and cannot sell it, does it just remain as it is?
Title: Re: Will the steel mill ever start back
Post by: Tom Rubillo on July 31, 2020, 08:03:51 PM