Real Estate

Mobile council approves incentive for steelmaker’s move

Steel rolls down the assembly line at the SSAB steel mill in Axis, Ala. The company announced on Oct. 19, 2017, that it is moving the headquarters of its American division from the Chicago area to Mobile. (John David Mercer/Press-Register file)

A month after Mobile officials celebrated steelmaker SSAB’s decision to move its North American headquarters to Mobile, the Mobile City Council approved the city’s share of an incentive package that appears to give the company more than $40,000 for every job it’s bringing to Alabama.

Without discussion or dissent, the council voted Tuesday to approve a project agreement that would involve providing $750,000 to SSAB. The measure was sponsored by Mayor Sandy Stimpson; it parallels one approved last week by the Mobile County Commission, which likewise provides $750,000 to pay capital expenses associated with the move.

On Oct. 19, as the move was announced, Alabama Secretary of Commerce Greg Canfield said figures for the state’s portion of the incentive package weren’t immediately available. According to information later provided by Canfield, the state contribution includes a $1 million cash allocation.

Chuck Schmitt, president of SSAB Americas, said in October that the headquarters relocation would bring about 60 "well-paying jobs" to Mobile. Divided by 60 jobs, the $2.5 million total cash incentive works out to $41,667 per job; that doesn’t include other non-cash incentives, such as a state jobs credit valued at a little over $2 million over 10 years and a local 10-year tax abatement.

According to information provided by Canfield, the state expects those incentives to be offset by $9.6 million in new state revenue over the next 20 years, and by the impact of the headquarters payroll of about $152 million over the same time frame.

The company employs about 600 people at a steel mill in Axis. Canfield said sites in four other states had been in the running for the headquarters, which is being moved away from the Chicago area.

"We also know from our employees, and from our history here, that Alabama provides a wonderful quality of life for them and their families," Schmitt said in October. "Moving our team to Mobile will ensure that our senior leaders and support staff work in closer proximity to our front-line operations, where key decisions are made for our business and customers."

Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson said in October that every time a company relocates to Mobile, it sends a signal to others that the city "is a great place to do business."

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