Viewing Jobs As a Priority

Too often, it seems government is more interested in throwing roadblocks in the way of job creation than in helping businesses achieve it. But it doesn’t have to be that way, as events involving the old Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel mill at Yorkville prove.

When RG Steel, the last owner of the mill, declared bankruptcy, it seemed the mill might close – taking with it scores of jobs.

Then Esmark Steel Group, which at one time had owned the facility along with other Wheeling-Pitt plants, offered to buy the Yorkville mill. Just hours before the deal was to close, however, Esmark officials made an unpleasant discovery.

Environmental contamination issues raised by government remained unresolved when RG Steel went under, Esmark officials learned. They put their offer to buy the Yorkville mill on hold in order to learn more about how those issues could be resolved – and at what cost.

Last week Esmark finalized its purchase of the Yorkville mill and revealed it plans to restart the facility and put about 160 employees back to work. That is wonderful news.

What happened about the concern over soil contamination at the plant?

Both state and federal officials worked with Esmark to evaluate the problem and plan a solution that satisfies the government – without placing an unnecessarily heavy financial burden on Esmark.

Public officials from the local level on up to Washington helped, it was revealed.

The resolution is an example of what government can do to preserve jobs – when they are viewed as a priority. Congratulations to all involved.