- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 26, 2018

COLUMBUS, Miss. (AP) - Steel Dynamics announced plans Thursday to invest $230 million to upgrade its northeast Mississippi steel mill, creating 45 jobs as the company continues pushing the mill toward higher-value products.

The company could get more than $25 million in state and local grants and tax breaks to subsidize the work.

Steel Dynamics, based in Fort Wayne, Indiana, said it will spend $140 million to add more galvanizing capacity to coat steel with rust-preventing zinc. Steel Dynamics says it has unmet demand for galvanized steel after it shifted some production at the Columbus, Mississippi, mill to other projects. When the new galvanizing line is completed in mid-2020, the company will be able to paint or galvanize more than half the mill’s 3.2 million tons of annual steel production.

The company has worked to shift the mill from selling to pipe and tube makers to selling to more lucrative customers, including auto and appliance makers and construction.

“This investment is another step of further diversification into higher-margin products for our Columbus Flat Roll Division,” CEO Mark D. Millett said in a statement.

Steel Dynamics said it will also invest $90 million to $100 million to increase production of high-grade steel for automakers and others.

“The added investments will continue to improve the process control needed for advanced high-strength steel grades used in the automotive industry,” Millett continued. “This wave of investment is the next step in our vision.”

Steel Dynamics will benefit from an existing agreement that cuts property taxes on all new investments by two-thirds for 10 years. Macaulay Whitaker, the chief operating officer of Golden Triangle Development Link, said that will save the company about $2 million a year.

Mississippi Development Authority spokeswoman Tammy Craft said the state will give Steel Dynamics $2.7 million to pay for railroad infrastructure and concrete paving. Lowndes County will pay $1.4 million over 10 years for rail work, plus $150,000 for sewer improvements.

Craft said Steel Dynamics also qualifies for incentives that will rebate some worker income taxes to the company. Those incentives require the company to pay new workers at least $40,673 annually. Steel Dynamics could get more than $700,000 in rebates over 10 years.

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