Sinton one step closer to bringing $1.8 billion steel plant to county

A full courtroom is seen as representatives from Steel Dynamics and the Corpus Christi Regional Economic Development Corporation get ready to give a presentation during Commissioners Court back on Feb. 25.

SINTON – Things are looking up for Sinton as its school district agreed to economic development incentives with the Texas Comptroller’s Office which could help bring Steel Dynamics to San Patricio County.

The Texas Comptroller’s Office report says the proposed steel mill is “reasonably likely to generate tax revenue in an amount sufficient to offset the school district’s maintenance and operations ad valorem tax revenue lost as a result of the agreement.”

Back in February, San Patricio County commissioners approved a request from Steel Dynamics to modify tax abatement guidelines as the company decides whether or not San Patricio County will be chosen for its $1.8 billion steel plant. The plant is currently looking at numerous sites in Texas and Louisiana.

The proposed electric arc furnace flat roll steel mill plant would serve the southern United States and the underserved Mexican flat roll steel market.

Glenn Pushis, senior vice president, Long Products Steel Group, Steel Dynamics, said the company’s philosophy is an important factor for the county and community to take into account. Steel Dynamics is one of the safest steel companies in the United States, he said.

Compensation for employees was discussed with the average salary at $76,000. Pushis said employees are very highly incentivized. The company gives weekly production bonuses, a monthly conversion bonus and yearly profit-sharing program.

“Every one of our employees is involved in our profit-sharing program,” Pushis said. “Our profit-sharing program is eight percent of our pre-tax profits, and every employee also gets restricted stock units.”

Mike Culbertson, chief operating officer, Corpus Christi Regional Economic Development Corporation, said Steel Dynamics was requesting a modification of the tax abatement guidelines established by the county a few weeks back because of their construction timeline.

“Basically you have five years of construction at 100 percent (abatement) and then five years at 70 percent,” Culbertson told the commissioners. “They’re asking for three years of construction (at 100 percent abatement) and then seven years at 70 percent (abatement).”

At the time, County Commissioner Howard Gillespie said he did not have a problem with the variance that the company was asking for.

“I think it’s a good deal,” Gillespie said.

County Judge David Krebs added that this company would be “a tremendous, tremendous asset when you all come.”

“The population of this town should grow, the school district should grow. It should benefit everybody,” Krebs said.

Sinton ISD Superintendent Dr. Chad Jones said that at next Monday’s school board meeting their attorneys will discuss in closed session the limitations of the discussions the school district could present to Steel Dynamics.

Then if the board comes to terms of that negotiation then the attorneys would visit Steel Dynamics and go through the process of looking it over.

If the two parties agree to those terms, then it goes back to the Texas Comptroller’s Office and they will see if it meets all the standards they set forth.

“If that’s the case, then our board would then have an opportunity to come back after getting the stamp of approval from the comptroller and our board could then approve it at that time,” Jones said. “So it’s a pretty drawn-out process. 

“We are excited about the possibilities it works out because of the huge impact that we feel like this will have on our community, our county and on our school district.

“At the same time, we want to get the best deal that we can for the patrons of Sinton and for our students.

“There’s a lot going to happen here in the next few weeks with it but nothing’s finalized or official yet. What’s happened so far is the comptroller just released their certificate, which kind of lets the process continue.”