Steel Hoping

A GLIMMER of hope has surfaced. The Yorkville steel mill has been idled for much too long.

Laid-off workers have been filled with anxiety and uncertainty. Doubts run rampant on whether the once thriving facility would ever get up and running. And if so, when?

While no concrete plans have been offered, optimism comes in the form of an announcement by the current mill owners that within two weeks a firm timeline will be in place, detailing plans for a restart.

That news comes almost a year since the mill’s work force was laid off by then-owner RG Steel. Esmark Steel Group has since taken over ownership, with apparent plans of making it a productive steelmaker again.

An announcement of a timeline doesn’t guarantee anything. But it is the first positive news laid-off steelworkers have received in a good while.

Esmark officials say the timetable is the foundation to get all the necessary resources in place. Esmark Chairman and CEO Jim Bouchard says he is “focused on getting Yorkville fired up and ready for the 2014 tin season.”

The Yorkville mill’s future also plays big into the ongoing health of neighboring sister company, Ohio Coating Co. Bouchard’s operational game plan is to have Yorkville be the main supplier of substrate steel for the tinplating operation at Ohio Coating Co.

One hurdle that still must be cleared if production is going to resume is cleaning up of an EPA violation. However, the Ohio EPA has targeted $1 million to make that happen.

It’s obvious that much still needs to be done to bring the Yorkville steel mill back to life. But for now, it now appears the facility’s future has a heartbeat.