A steel plate manufacturer with a mill in Alabama took cash incentives and tax abatements from the city, county and state governments to move its American headquarters from the Chicago suburbs to Mobile.

The move means SSAB America will add 60 employees in Mobile to the 600 who work at the Axis plant, SSAB Executive Vice President Chuck Schmitt said during an announcement at the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce Thursday morning.

He gave no details on the new location for the headquarters yet and said the transition would occur throughout 2018.

“This helps to ensure the senior leaders and support personnel can work closely with the mill,” Schmitt said.

The city and county will each give SSAB $750,000 in cash incentives paid over a three-year period and the company will also take advantage of standard 10-year Industrial Development Authority tax abatement, county attorney Jay Ross said. The incentives are based on minimum job requirements, he said.

The incentive packages will go before the County Commission for a vote on Monday, Nov. 13 and before the City Council on Tuesday, Nov. 14, Ross said.

The City Council recently changed the fiscal year 2018 budget to remove funds from economic development for other expenses. City spokesman George Talbot said those changes won’t impact this deal, as it was already in the works before the budget cycle.

During the announcement, Mayor Sandy Stimpson said the focus for his administration is making Mobile into a city welcoming to more corporate headquarters.

“Thrilled is an understatement,” Stimpson said. “This is such a huge deal.”

Alabama Secretary of Commerce Greg Canfield congratulated the Chamber on not only beautiful weather, but on a big announcement. He called it a “chamber of commerce day.”
“It’s always great to be in Mobile, especially on days like today,” Canfield said. “It’s incredible to see the economic development activity that’s going on here.”

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Montrose) used a breakfast analogy to comment on the strengthening of the company’s long-standing ties with the area.

“Chuck, welcome,” he said. “You’ve been part of the family, but now you’re at the head of the table. When we pass around the grits, you’ll get the first scoop.”

Byrne added that he joined the steel caucus in Congress because the “steel industry is under attack” from foreign producers he said are aided by their governments in dumping steel here.

“Those days are over,” he said. “We’re not going to let other companies undercut American-made steel.”

Byrne then told Schmitt he owed him a beer before extending the offer to everyone in attendance.

“ … I’m buying,” he said.

Commission President Merceria Ludgood also welcomed the company to Mobile and commented on the lasting relationship with this area of the state.

“Your presence has transformed not only Mobile, but the region,” she said. “We recognize the level of trust inherent in that decision.”