St. Paul's economy is about to get a big boost from a global steel maker that plans to invest some $50 million in expanding its plant.
Brazil-based Gerdau is a giant in the steel industry, and its investment in the state's Capitol city definitely gives a hefty hand to the heavy manufacturing sector.
"This makes us a pretty big player in the steel industry," said Bill Blazar, of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce.
The work at Gerdau's St. Paul plant, located just north of Interstate 494 along the Mississippi River, includes taking scrap -- such as that found in old cars and SUVs -- and running it through a massive facility to turn it into high-quality steel once more.
"It's a very high quality, very precisely-made form of steel," Blazar said.
"Not only is it a great recycling firm, but this is the company that made most of the steel for the Dallas Cowboys stadium," said Mayor Chris Coleman. "We won't hold that against them. They do bridges and other projects across the country."
Now, the company plans to upgrade it's local infrastructure so it can increase its steel output significantly.
"They could've made this investment in another community, made it in a place where the plant needs upgrading," said Blazar. "It's a testament to the quality of the Minnesota workforce and its ability to make high-quality steel."
Blazar says the investment also locks down the company's long-term future in Minnesota. As for jobs, Gerdau employs about 370 in St. Paul. That number isn't expected to grow much because the new equipment will mostly make the plant more efficient, but it will create many construction jobs in the short term while securing the future for current employees.
"These are great jobs that pay well," Coleman said. "It is an incredibly important investment in the future of the city."
Local officials say the $50 million investment will also help related industries, such as the scrap yards and truckers.
Gerdau operates in 14 countries, employing about 45,000 people across the globe. The company is planning a groundbreaking later this month, and hopes to have the new operations up and running by early 2014.