MONROE -- A large steel supplier has announced plans to put $21.6 million into its Monroe plant, bringing the total investment there to nearly $150 million over the past two years.
Gerdau Special Steel North America said the latest investment will increase the plant's straightening and quality-inspection capabilities.
The company, a subsidiary of Brazilian steel manufacturer Gerdau, is based near Jackson, Mich. In recent years, it has been investing heavily in its North American operations, including Monroe.
"We are expanding our capabilities to meet the growing demands of our customers so we can continue to be their supplier of choice," Jack Finlayson, president of Gerdau Special Steel North America, said in a statement.
The improvements in Monroe, first announced in 2010, include new equipment and infrastructure. All together, they're expected to increase the plant's production capacity to 800,000 short tons per year by the second half of 2013.
"They are anticipating the combination of that investment plus the investment in the rolling mill and another roughly $60 million investment will create about 35 new jobs, possibly more," said Dan Swallow, Monroe's director of economic and community development.
Work continues on the first stage of upgrades, and is expected to be completed this summer.
The city granted a 12-year, 50 percent property tax abatement for those improvements. Mr. Swallow said similar tax incentives are being considered for the additional investments.
Mr. Swallow said the plant employs about 350 people. A handful of new hires have been brought in already, and more are to be added as the expansion continues.
The existing and new jobs are expected to pay an average of about $17 per hour.
In Monroe, Gerdau primarily makes steel bars for the automotive industry. It also provides components for agricultural and heavy industrial machinery.
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