Middletown City Steel Plant Investment Could Boost Local Economy After Other Plants Exited

Middletown City Manager Paul Lolli said this investment will allow the city to create a tax base to fund different city needs. He said at its peak, the city used to employ around 98 police officers and 92 firefighters. Those numbers have dropped in recent years. At its lowest, the city employed 65 officers and 64 firefighters.
Cleveland-Cliffs Middletown Works steel plant will receive a federal grant of up to $500 million to replace its coal-burning blast furnace with a hybrid unit that burns hydrogen and natural gas, a project that is expected to create 1,200 construction jobs and dramatically reduce carbon emissions. Cleveland-Cliff is investing $1.3 billion of its own money for the project.

Cleveland-Cliffs Middletown Works is getting a nearly $2 billion upgrade

A nearly $2 billion investment into the Cleveland-Cliffs Middletown Works plant could mean big business for the city.

Middletown City Manager Paul Lolli said this investment will allow the city to create a tax base to fund different city needs.

“Having this tax base allows the city to do what cities are supposed to do. It allows us to have strong infrastructure. It allows us to have a good public safety department,” Lolli said. “Since around 2008, public safety has taken a hit.”

He said at its peak, the city used to employ around 98 police officers and 92 firefighters. Those numbers have dropped in recent years. At its lowest, the city employed 65 officers and 64 firefighters.

Lolli said with the tax money they should be able to increase the city’s public safety workforce.

“It’s great for Middletown especially I mean the workers in the mill, you know, something happens in the mill they’re the first responders. First responders anywhere, they’re running in a house that’s on fire while everybody else is running out,” said Shawn Coffey, the plant workers union president for Local 1943.

Coffey is also excited about what this plant upgrade means for the surrounding businesses.

“Money in the pocket is money in the community, right? People work here, spend money here, it’s beneficial all the way around,” he said.

Lolli said a lot of businesses have moved out of the city in the last 50 years.

“Those paper plants are gone. ARMCO still went from a 7,000-employee steel mill to just over 2,500 right now,” he said.

Lolli and Coffey said this investment will keep people living in the city employed for years.

“Choosing Middletown Works as the place for this [hydrogen-ready] furnace, you know, it shows that the steel mill is going to be here for the next 5th, 6th, 7th generation of Middletown workers,” Lolli said.

“It gives people a sense of comfort, knowing that we’re going to be here for a long time. Currently, we have generations of employees that work out here,” Coffey said.

And, they’ll be doing that work in a more environmentally friendly way, Coffey said.

Lolli said construction is expected to start in 2025 and finish in 2029.

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