Tampa steel maker Gerdau Ameristeel mum on tax incentives offer from Jacksonville
Tampa's Gerdau Ameristeel, maker of steel rebar and related steel construction products, is a hot topic in Jacksonville where a councilman wants to give the company a multimillion-dollar tax break -- in exchange for commitments from the company to expand its local Baldwin steel mill.
So far, according to the Jacksonville newspaper, Ameristeel's mum on the topic -- perhaps to play the cat-and-mouse game of maximizing local incentives, or perhaps because the iffy economy makes a promise of mill expansion difficult to make right now.
The Florida Times Union reports that Jacksonville Councilman Ray Holt is withdrawing his incentives bill for Ameristeel but would still consider it if the company steps up. The bill said the cost of electricity in Jacksonville caused Ameristeel to move work to other U.S. factories. The Baldwin mill employs about 300 people. The workforce dropped by 10 percent between 2008 and 2009, according to the legislation. Here's the Times Union story.
Running Ameristeel's mini-mills for steel rebar requires astounding amounts of electricity, so controlling energy costs is a recurring issue with the company. In the 1990s, Ameristeel chose to close its Tampa steel mill when it could not win electricity price concessions from area utility Tampa Electric, part of TECO Energy.
-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist