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HAMMOND | Munster Steel broke ground Wednesday on the company's new home in Hammond, marking an approximately $8 million investment at the West Point Plaza Industrial Park near White Oak Avenue and Gostlin Street.

Company representatives joined city officials to celebrate the beginning of construction of the 131,000-square-foot facility. The privately-owned company bought 12 acres at the industrial park from the Hammond Urban Enterprise Association to relocate from Calumet Avenue in Munster. The new site is north of the FedEx facility.

“This is a very important addition for (the industrial park),” said Phil Taillon, executive director of the city's Department of Planning and Development. “We've had development here. We've had a lot of success in this area, but the last three or four years it's been kind of slow. To land this project and bring this to West Point is very important.”

Since announcing Munster Steel's plan to move to Hammond, the city has received a number of inquiries from businesses hoping to locate to the remaining five acres at West Point, Taillon said. City officials also hope the project will spur development of another separately-owned 30 acres of the site.

“It's a very happy day,” Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. said. “This is a great project here. It's a great location. And the more word we get out about people like Munster Steel located at West Point, it's going to be easier to develop the rest of it.”

Munster Steel will retain 40 employees in the move, with the possibility of adding 10 to 20 jobs in the future, McDermott said. The company hopes to grow but that will be dependent on market activity, said Ronald Robbins, president emeritus of Munster Steel.

Robbins said the company hopes to be in the new facility by late 2014.

Munster Steel, which fabricates structural steel, steel parts and iron, announced its plans to relocate in 2011.

The relocation will clear the way for Munster's underpass/overpass project at Calumet Avenue and 45th Street.

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