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EAST CHICAGO, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Ohio-based Cleveland-Cliffs Inc. (NYSE: CLF) is planning to indefinitely idle one of the two remaining blast furnaces at its Indiana Harbor Works steel mill in East Chicago. Despite the move, the steelmaker says no Hoosier jobs will be affected.

The normal operations of Indiana Harbor Works, including two steel shops, a hot strip mill and finishing facilities, will continue, according to the company. The nearby Riverdale Works will also maintain its normal operations.

Cleveland-Cliffs says the decision to idle Indiana Harbor #4 is the result of operational improvements such as adding hot-briquetted iron to the blast furnaces and maximizing the use of scrap in basic oxygen furnaces.

The company’s last remaining blast furnace, Indiana Harbor #7, will be the sole supplier for Riverdale Works. Cleveland-Cliffs Chief executive Officer Lourenco Goncalves says the employees from IH#4 will be reassigned to other positions.

“By concentrating the operation and maximizing productivity at IH#7 we are improving our carbon footprint and, at the same time, lowering our cost structure for the same level of steel production and shipments,” said Goncalves. “Most importantly, as we have enough job openings on site for all impacted employees, we are now able to fill several available job openings at Indiana Harbor Works with the current workforce of IH#4.”

The IH#4 furnace is capable of producing 2.1 million net tons of hot metal per year. The company says it expects to cease operations at the furnace within the next two months.

Additionally, the steelmaker says it plans to increase its market base prices for its carbon hot rolled, cold rolled and coated steel products by a minimum of $50 per net ton.

Cleveland-Cliffs adds it does not expect any change to its steel shipment volumes for this year as a result of idling the blast furnace.

EAST CHICAGO, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — A former steel mill in East Chicago is under new ownership and could possibly be set for redevelopment. Chicago-based Speedwagon Capital Partners has acquired the property from Ohio-based Cleveland-Cliffs Inc. (NYSE: CLF), though financial details are not being disclosed.

The steel bar mill has been idled since 2000 and Cleveland-Cliffs assumed ownership of the site as part of its $1.4 billion acquisition of ArcelorMittal USA last year. 

SCP says the site, located at 4000BL Kennedy Avenue in the Lake County city, is well-suited for industrial redevelopment because of its on-site rail access, barge access to Lake Michigan and proximity to multiple interstates.

“We are very excited about the favorable logistical and supply chain attributes that this premier industrial location offers,” Steve Khoshabe, senior managing director at SCP, said in a news release.

However, an SCP spokesperson declined to provide details on any specific redevelopment plans in an email to Inside INdiana Business.

EAST CHICAGO, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — An electrical infrastructure services provider in East Chicago is under new ownership. Midwestern Electric Inc. has been acquired by Canadian private equity firm CAI Capital Partners, though financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Midwestern Electric specializes in installing and maintaining traffic signals, street lights, intelligent transport systems and other electrical systems throughout Indiana and parts of Illinois. The company was previously owned by Connecticut-based mergers and acquisitions firm Woodbridge International.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with CAI as they have a successful history of helping owner-led businesses like ours take the next step in their evolution,” Ryan Rentschler, president of Midwestern Electric, said in a news release.

Woodbridge says Rentschler, along with Vice President Ryan Lepper and Vice President of Finance Lenore Obajtek, will retain a “meaningful equity interest” in the company and continue in their roles. 

The company did not specify whether any other jobs would be affected. Woodbridge International did not respond to a request for more information from Inside INdiana Business.

EAST CHICAGO, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — A new joint venture has broken ground on a 250,000-square-foot warehouse in East Chicago. Maryland-based transportation asset management firm Realterm and Illinois-based real estate development firm The Missner Group say the $20 million project is part of an effort to develop multiple infill warehouse and distribution facilities in the greater Chicago region.

The new warehouse building will sit on more than 14 acres at 4400 Homerlee Avenue in East Chicago, less than a mile from I-90. The joint venture says the facility will have easy access to downtown Chicago and both Chicago airports, and its also adjacent to the CSX railroad for easy train access.

Karen Lauerman, president and chief executive officer of the Lake County Economic Alliance, says the groundbreaking stands for more than just a new building.

“It symbolizes the effort put into remediation and site preparation by the previous land owner, the vision of successful development with large scale investment by The Missner Group and Realterm, the commitment of Mayor Copeland, City Council and others to work together with our organization to attract this type of investment and job creation, and the numerous opportunities for companies to land or expand in East Chicago and Lake County, Indiana, Chicago’s true Eastern Suburb,” Lauerman said in a statement to Inside INdiana Business.

The joint venture did not provide an estimated time frame for completion.

EAST CHICAGO, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Maryland-based W.R. Grace & Co. (NYSE: GRA) is adding to its colloidal manufacturing site in East Chicago. The global specialty chemical company says the new analytical lab will be used for research and development to find new applications for its colloidal silica produced at the Lake County facility.

The LUDOX colloidal silica produced at the plant is used in a variety of applications, including nonstick cookware, coatings, and concrete. The company says the product has “considerable untapped potential” for new uses.

“This investment positions Grace at the forefront of ongoing innovation and accelerates our responsiveness to the evolving needs of our customers’ use of LUDOX in critical applications,” Sandra Wisniewski, president of Grace Materials Technologies, said in a news release. “We are excited to expand our footprint in the East Chicago community and have extended capabilities that will support continued global demand.”

Financial terms of the company’s investment in the lab are not being disclosed. A spokesperson for Grace says the investment in the new lab did not create any new jobs, though the facility currently employs 50 in East Chicago.

EAST CHICAGO, Ind. (AP) — The reward for information leading to an arrest in the fatal shooting of an 8-year-old Indiana girl has climbed to $20,000.

Police announced Tuesday that the Federal Protection Agency LLC, a security service based in South Holland, Illinois, is offering an additional $10,000 in the death of Timiya Andrews in East Chicago.

That’s in addition to $10,000 put up by the the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and East Chicago Mayor Anthony Copeland.

Timiya died Oct. 28 after being shot in the head six days earlier as she did homework in her living room. Police don’t believe she was targeted.

EAST CHICAGO, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — St. Catherine Hospital in East Chicago has named Nina Stur as its Chief Nursing Officer and Vice President of Patient Care Services. Stur has served as interim Chief Nursing Officer since January and started as a registered nurse at St. Catherine 37 years ago.

Stur wrote and implemented nursing care plans for patients and was later promoted to director of Nursing and Nurse Clinician in 1990 and then became the hospital’s Clinical Case Manager in 1993. She most recently served as director of Case Management and associate director of Patient Care Services.

“Nina is a dynamic and well-respected collaborator with extensive knowledge of the patient population, accreditation processes, wellness initiatives and innovative nursing practices,” said Leo Correa, administrator and Chief Executive Officer.

Stur has also managed a wellness program for East Chicago steelworkers.

EAST CHICAGO, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) – Ameristar Casino Hotel East Chicago has announced plans to reduce its workforce. In a notice to the state, the casino says 127 team members will be permanently laid off beginning in mid-September.

While the company says the layoff will be permanent, Ameristar expects the facility to remain open.

Ameristar says the layoffs are the result of COVID-19-related business circumstances.

“The impact on our business was not reasonably foreseeable until now. We simply could not foresee, that the initial closures of our properties, that were issued by one or two states for a limited period of time, ultimately spread throughout all the states in which we operate and eventually be extended, interrupting almost all business and travel temporarily. The significant drags on our business will likely continue for the foreseeable future,” stated Christy Rodriguez, Ameristar Casino Hotel East Chicago director of human resources.

The company says it could not have anticipated when its properties would be allowed to reopen and how restrictive the new operating conditions would be, and the negative impact it would have on its business volumes.

EAST CHICAGO, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — An Illinois-based mechanical contractor has broken ground on a new facility in East Chicago. Manhattan Mechanical Services says it is investing $2.5 million to build the 20,000-square-foot facility and create up to 100 jobs over the next few years.

Manhattan provides mechanical services to oil refineries, chemical plans, steel mills, paper mills and other heavy industrial operations. The city says the new facility will include offices, a fabrication shop, a craft training center, and a corporate office.

“We have been fortunate to have significant growth in recent years and based on that growth, we began exploring the necessity of relocation to better serve the Midwest market,” said Mike Uremovich, President of Manhattan. “The evolution of our company continues today. East Chicago and the state of Indiana provide a business environment where we and our clients can continue to prosper.”

The facility is being build on a former vacant, city-owned property. The company says it expects to continue its growth over the next several years and selected the 2.8-acre site to accommodate that growth.

“East Chicago’s reputation for redevelopment and productive reuse of municipal property continues to draw development and businesses, and we appreciate the commitment Manhattan has made to our city,” said East Chicago Mayor Anthony Copeland. “With our focus on fostering a friendly business climate, East Chicago is a community that companies can rely on to help provide a return on their investment and future prosperity.”

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. has offered Manhattan up to $1.3 million in conditional tax credits, which the company will not be eligible to claim until Hoosier workers are hired for the new jobs. 

EAST CHICAGO, In (Inside INdiana Business) — Pittsburgh-based United States Steel Corp. has updated Indiana officials about previously announced layoffs at the East Chicago Tin Mill.

The company says 314, rather than 307, workers will be displaced when the mill is idled this fall. East Chicago Tin makes tin products like paint cans and tin-plated metal for canned foods.

U.S. Steel sent a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification, or WARN notice, to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development in September to announce the plant closure. Last week, the company updated the letter by saying seven more positions, mostly security jobs, would be laid off in December.

The steelmaker said it is consolidating its three tin mills into two facilities as the reason for the idling of the East Chicago plant. The company cites global competition and imports of low-priced tin as part of the reason behind the layoffs.

“The idling is not expected to be permanent but will be of an indefinite period,” said James Van Buren, director of employee relations for U.S. Steel Gary Works, in the WARN letter to the state.

U.S. Steel said while more than 300 workers will be displaced, it expects actual job losses to be fewer than 150 when workers take positions at other U.S. Steel facilities in Gary and Portage.

According to the original WARN letter the layoffs will begin Nov. 9 and will continue periodically through the end of the year.

Talks are underway with the United Steelworkers union about the number of workers who will be transferred to those other sites.