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U.S. Steel picked Ohio over Portage for $400 galvanizing line

U.S. Steel Midwest Plant in Portage is pictured above. U.S. Steel filed plans to build a $400 million continuous galvanizing line there in February, but decided on Ohio instead.

U.S. Steel filed plans with the state of Indiana in February to build a new galvanizing line at the Midwest Plant in Portage, but ended up spurning Northwest Indiana for Ohio.

The Pittsburgh-based steelmaker announced in late September it would partner with Kobe Steel to build a new $400 million continuous galvanizing line for lightweight vehicles at its PRO-TEC Coating Company joint venture in Leipsic, Ohio. A few weeks later, it sent a letter to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management saying it was withdrawing plans to build the finishing line in Portage.

"On Feb. 21, 2017, U.S. Steel Corporation submitted a significant permit modification for the Midwest Plant Title V Operating Permit," U.S. Steel's Gary Works Environmental Control Director Joseph E. Hanning wrote in the letter. "The modification requested authorization to construct and operate a proposed continuous galvanizing line. U.S. Steel is no longer pursuing the CGL project at this time, and therefore it is retracting the CGL request from the permit modification package."

U.S. Steel is instead building the "first-of-its-kind" finishing line that can produce 500,000 tons a year at a non-unionized plant in northwest Ohio.

"We looked into multiple locations before deciding upon Ohio," U.S. Steel spokeswoman Meghan Cox said. "We often explore multiple options when undertaking a project of this size."

Cox declined to discuss why U.S. Steel passed up on Northwest Indiana, where it operates the Gary Works, Midwest Plant and East Chicago Tin mills.

"We don’t publicly discuss our decision-making process," Cox said.

It's not the first time a major steelmaker has rebuffed the Region, the largest steel-producing area in the United States, in favor of a newer facility elsewhere. ArcelorMittal has recently closed some finishing lines at ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor after shifting the work to AM/NS Calvert, a 50/50 joint venture between ArcelorMittal and Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp. in Alabama.

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.