Kankakee County getting $180 million steel mill expansion

Steelmaker Nucor plans to invest $180 million to expand a steel plant an hour south of Chicago, creating 75 new jobs.

The Charlotte, N.C., company plans to add a merchant bar mill, one that produces steel in angles, channels and other shapes, to its existing facility in Bourbonnais that makes steel reinforcing bars. The new mill will have capacity to produce 500,000 tons annually.

Currently 475 people work at Nucor's steelmaking campus nestled between Interstate 57 and State Route 50, a site that includes metals businesses Nucor has purchased. Construction on the new mill starts next year, with it opening in 2019, said Timothy Nugent, chief executive of the Economic Alliance of Kankakee County.

The Midwest is a top market for merchant bar. The expansion "takes advantage of our position as a low-cost producer to displace tons currently being supplied by competitors outside the region," Nucor CEO John Ferriola said in a statement.

Nucor, which reported $16.21 billion in revenue in 2016, is not receiving EDGE tax credits, said Jacquelyn Reineke, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

The facility is in an enterprise zone, which means tax breaks on some property, materials, utility bills and equipment purchases. It also will receive a property tax break phased out over five years.

Nucor also had considered locating the new mill at its facility in Marion, Ohio, according to the Daily Journal in Kankakee.

Reineke called Nucor's selection of Bourbonnais "a win" for Illinois, and Nugent noted it was another step in Kankakee County's economic turnaround.