US Steel Plans to Invest $750 Million to Modernize Factory, Spurred by Trump’s Tariffs

August 20, 2018 Updated: August 20, 2018

A major American steel company will be investing at least $750 million to upgrade one of its manufacturing plants as a result of President Donald Trump’s tariffs on imported steel and other efforts to revitalize American manufacturing.

The United States Steel Corp. announced plans on Aug. 16 to start building “significant upgrades” at its Gary, Indiana, plant along Lake Michigan, as part of a 5-year $750 million asset revitalization investment for the company, which was founded in 1901.

Trump’s tariffs have helped to revitalize a steel industry that has been in decline for decades. U.S. Steel’s president and CEO, David B. Burritt, indirectly credited the investment to Trump and said the move could not have happened without the “favorable trade policies” enacted by “the strong Section 232 national security action on steel imports.

“We are pleased to be making this significant investment at Gary Works, which will improve the facility’s environmental performance, bolster our competitiveness and benefit the local community for years to come,” Burritt said in a statement. “We are experiencing a renaissance at U.S. Steel.”

A United States Steel Corp. plant in Clairton, Pennsylvania, on March 2, 2018. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Tens of thousands of American workers have faced layoffs and dozens of factories have been shut since 2000, due to imports, according to the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM), a nonprofit organization formed by manufacturers and United Steelworkers. With the recent tariffs on imports, the steel industry is starting to seeing some positive signs.

Over the past few years, steel imports have steadily increased, comprising nearly 33 percent of the U.S. steel market last year. The majority of U.S. steel producers have been taking losses since 2009, losing their ability to invest in new technologies and labor.

“Right now, we have companies pouring back into our country, we have fair deals, we have really fair deals, and we have many deals in the works,” Trump said in a White House video on Aug. 19. “Other countries that took advantage of us are no longer taking advantage of us, our jobs were lost, our taxes were lost, our business were lost—those days are over.”

U.S. Steel’s investment is part of its planned $2 billion revitalization program. The company said it will help to modernize their flagship operation in Gary, and will include the installation of new state-of-the-art production equipment, machinery, modernizing technology and more.

Burritt was joined with Indiana Gov. Eric J. Holcomb and Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, who both touted the benefits of the company’s investment. They said the move will help ensure the long-term success of the facility.

Holcomb called it a “major step forward” in creating a “lasting positive impact on the city of Gary.”

Meanwhile, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) could be offering U.S. Steel up to $10 million in conditional tax credits over a 10-year period, pending an approval, due to the company’s commitment to retain 3,875 jobs for Indiana residents. The IEDC could also offer up to $2 million in worker training grants to support the employees at Gary Works.

At the same time, the city of Gary will offer tax-increment financing valued at about $35 million over 25 years, because of a partnership based on U.S. Steel’s original $750 million investment. That will allow the city, the Gary Community School Corporation, and the Gary Public Library to share the benefit of the investment.

“I remember, when I was growing up, I’d see ‘Made in America’ all over the place,” Trump said at a “Made in America” event in July. “Everything had ‘Made in America.’ And we’re starting that again.”

According to the White House, nearly 350,000 manufacturing jobs have been created since Trump took office. Voters are also trusting Trump more with the economy, according to a recent poll by Zogby Analytics, which showed that 45 percent of likely voters trust Trump to “grow the U.S. economy” versus 34 percent who trust Democratic leaders to do it.

Emel Akan contributed to this report.