BLASDELL, N.Y. (WIVB) — Operations at a Blasdell steel mill will be idled following a decision to consolidate production by its parent company.
The Republic Steel mill on Lake Shore Road will be idling indefinitely, according to the company behind its operations, Grupo Simec. A location in Canton, Ohio will also be placed in indefinite idle.
“I was surprised, very surprised. This caught the town leadership off guard,” Hamburg Supervisor Randy Hoak told News 4.
Hoak says his biggest fear is residents moving out of Hamburg or Western New York entirely. He encourages them to stay the course and not give up on his town.
“Folks that will leaving our community, leaving family members behind and leaving memories behind. But I am hopeful. I am hopeful in a strong economy. I am hopeful in the employment opportunities in this area. I am hopeful in the redevelopment in what was steel infrastructure,” Hoak said. “There is work here. Our community is succeeding…That those skills can benefit other works, other organizations, other projects in the Western New York area.”
As a result of the idle, approximately 500 Republic Steel employees will be furloughed indefinitely between both the Blasdell and Canton locations.
Grupo Simec, who acquired Republic Steel in 2005, said in a release that they “exhausted every additional potential option besides idling these two locations” prior to Thursday’s announcement. During the idle, Grupo Simec said that Republic Steel U.S. customers will be served by the company’s location in Tlaxcala, Mexico.
According to the release, the idle comes as the company faces competitive market prices and decreased demand.
“This isn’t an easy decision. But we feel it’s the only way for us to continue toJaime Vigil, Republic Steel board member and executive advisor
serve our U.S. customer base with an ongoing and reliable supply of product, including leaded
steel, and to do so at a competitive price point. Ultimately, we’re responsible to our
shareholders and our customers. We’re simply doing what needs to be done to meet our
Hoak says the town recently received a $200,000 grant that will allow them to complete a design study to revitalize that area where industry once reigned supreme. He hopes the town can develop this area to promote economic opportunity.
“There’s opportunity for light industry, heavy industry. There’s been some development interests locally. My hope is that we can turn this unfortunate situation here into an opportunity,” Hoak said.
Friday afternoon, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz issued a statement in response to the idle.
I am the proud son of a steelworker and a Lackawanna native who lived through the closure of Bethlehem Steel. What happened then holds true today; good paying, local jobs with great benefits were taken away in an instant to produce steel overseas. And, just as it was unwise then, it is unwise now. We learned invaluable lessons during the pandemic about the importance of domestic supply chains and the need for onshore manufacturing. We’ve seen through the war in Ukraine and tensions with China the necessity of strong, American manufacturing.”Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz
News 4 reached out to United Steelworkers, the union that represents employees at the Republic Steel mill, but has not heard back.
- Firefighter Jason Arno’s 4-year-old daughter throws out first pitch at Buffalo Bisons game
- UB Bulls 0-4 for first time since ’05
- LIV Golf Chicago: Muñoz leads by 3; Torque, Fireballs tied
- Over a decade of dominance, Canisius gets even with rival St. Joe’s on football field
- Exasperated GOP leaders vent frustration at holdouts as shutdown nears
Tara Lynch is a Buffalo native and Emmy nominated reporter who joined the News 4 team in 2022. She previously worked at WETM in Elmira, N.Y., a sister station of News 4. You can follow Tara on Facebook and Twitter and find more of her work here.