GEORGETOWN, S.C. – The owner of the steel mill in Georgetown says it is closing the plant, leaving 226 workers without jobs.
ArcelorMittal announced in a news release Thursday that the shutdown will be completed in the third quarter of the year.
Georgetown County Economic Director Brian Tucker told News13 Thursday the announcement came as “somewhat of a surprise.” Tucker says county officials and economic leaders learned of the mill’s closure around 11:20 a.m. Thursday. Tucker says he heard rumors of a potential shutdown, but said there was no real confirmation until the announcement.
The plant is the company’s main producer of wire rod in the United States and the company said it could no longer complete with foreign steel wire imports that it says are being unfairly traded domestically. The company said imported wire rod now makes up a third of the domestic market.
The Georgetown County Economic Development Department released this statement Thursday:
“We are saddened by the news today that ArcelorMittal will be closing its Georgetown plant. We will work with ArcelorMittal and the Department of Employment and Workforce to create a transition plan for impacted employees. Many of these employees have considerable experience and very sought-after skill sets. Even prior to today’s announcement, we have been working with a number of our existing industries on expansion plans. These expansions all include additional jobs, and many of the impacted ArcelorMittal employees have the skills and experience to provide an immediate benefit to our other industries. We will make every effort to connect these employees with our industries.”
Tucker says at the moment, it is unclear when layoffs will begin at the Georgetown mill. He says employees can begin taking advantage of the DEW’s Dislocated Worker Program to help find new jobs. County officials hope to recruit another large employer to Georgetown County to help ease the pain of the mill’s closure.
The Georgetown plant was closed in 2009 during the Great Recession. It was brought back online two years later under a revised labor agreement.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.