Portage steel plant construction to begin soon

2012-03-07T15:00:00Z 2012-03-07T16:21:11Z Portage steel plant construction to begin soonBy Lauri Harvey Keagle and Bowdeya Tweh Times Staff Writers nwitimes.com

PORTAGE | Roseville, Minn.-based Ratner Steel Supply Co. plans to invest about $14.3 million to build its first facility in the region and add 30 new jobs there by 2015.

Ratner, which produces steel sheets and plates, plans to build a 102,000-square-foot steel service facility on a 4.1-acre site at the Port of Indiana – Burns Harbor. Construction is scheduled to begin by month's end with a new cut-to-length line in operation by February. Hiring for sales, clerical and production associates in Portage is expected to begin in October.

Steve Gottlieb, Ratner's general manager and chief financial officer, said the company has been on a strong growth trajectory since the recession ended and needs additional capacity to grow the business. He said it also is important for the company to be closer to its steel suppliers including ArcelorMittal, NLMK Indiana and Steel Dynamics.

"As soon as we decided to expand, we knew Northwest Indiana was the place to be," Gottlieb said.

Founded more than 25 years ago, Ratner Steel is a privately held firm that employs about 62 employees. It is a flat-rolled sheet service center for the agricultural, industrial equipment and energy sectors. 

Jody Peacock, spokesman for the statewide port system, said getting another steel company to locate at the Portage port solidifies its ties to the industry. Peacock said the key to selling the port to prospects is companies' ability to access multiple modes of transportation.

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. offered Ratner up to $210,000 in tax credits contingent upon the company's job-creation plans.

"Indiana's business-friendly climate continues to set us apart and gives companies like Ratner Steel reason to establish roots here," said Dan Hasler, secretary of commerce and CEO of the IEDC.

Portage approved property tax abatements as well.

"Portage is the benefactor of the exceptional work of the IEDC, the Port of Indiana and the Portage Economic Development Corp. ... We are grateful Ratner Steel has chosen Portage as their expansion location, and we believe they are just a start to a strong economic comeback," Portage Mayor James Snyder said.

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