• 55°

Steel plant can still be viable

After years of stop-and-go progress, the future of a steel mill in nearby Scioto County likely hinges on two things: local investors and the results of a feasibility study.

That appears to be the state of the multimillion dollar project that has long been on southern Ohio’s wish list. The most recent plans, put together by New Steel International, calls for the development of an electric arc steel mill in Haverhill.

Several meetings in recent weeks have attempted to jump start the project that appeared to lose momentum and was somewhat shot down by Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who has doubts about the viability of it.

But recent efforts may have saved this project, one that could be a massive shot in the arm for southern Ohio’s economy. The result is that business owners and local governments are being asked to foot the bill for a more in-depth feasibility analysis of how the steel mill could be financed, constructed and operate profitably.

This appears to be a logical way to move forward and we must allow the facts to drive future decisions rather than the emotional response to the need for jobs.

Kasich has been clear that the project will not receive state funds until a solid financing plan is in place. It is certainly reasonable for the governor to protect investments made with taxpayers’ dollars but he also must ensure southern Ohio projects are given the same benefit of the doubt as those in the “three Cs” — Columbus, Cincinnati and Cleveland.

This project can still happen but any move to drive it forward must be based on a strong foundation that is as strong as the steel the plant hopes to make.