Nucor decided on a location in Kentucky to build its new state-of-the-art steel plate mill after spending nearly four months considering various sites in the Midwest, including Montgomery County. 

The announcement came Wednesday in Brandenburg, Kentucky, where Nucor plans to invest $1.35 billion to build the new mill along the Ohio River southwest of Louisville. 

“We are obviously very disappointed,” Montgomery County Commissioners President Jim Fulwider said. “We are proud of the collaborative effort put forth by our county commissioners, RDC, the local leadership team at Nucor and our utility partners. We firmly believe Montgomery County put our best foot forward in this bid for this project.”

State and local officials had been working to bring the new mill to the county, which likely would have been built near the current steel mill south of the State Road 32 and Interstate 74 interchange. The new mill is expected to employ more than 400 workers at an average annual salary of $72,000.

It would have especially been good timing for the county. The Redevelopment Commission and Regional Water & Sewer Board are currently working on infrastructure projects, including water and sewer, in the area around the S.R. 32 and I-74 corridor.

Fulwider said the county isn’t yet aware of what the final determining factors were for Nucor choosing the Kentucky location over Montgomery County. Erin Sweitzer, a spokesperson for the Indiana Economic Development Corp., said negotiations are confidential and couldn’t confirm or comment on discussions. 

Building at a location on a waterway such as the Ohio River, however, is especially appealing to a manufacturer such as Nucor, the nation’s largest steel producer. While rail service is an option in Montgomery County, barge transportation on the Ohio River is a cost-effective alternative.

“At this time we really don’t have anything that we know of that were the deciding factors,” Fulwider said. “But we understood early in the process that the river access for transportation was a preference.”

Local officials have already been taking steps to be ready for development in the county, including that similar to Nucor’s new project.

The Montgomery County Plan Commission will meet at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the council chambers at Crawfordsville Municipal Building, 300 E. Pike St., to consider the adoption of a comprehensive plan for the county. The commission will send a recommendation to county commissioners.

On April 8, city and county officials, including the Montgomery County Redevelopment Commission, county commissioners, county council, Regional Water & Sewer Board and Crawfordsville Common Council, will conduct a joint meeting at 3:30 p.m. that day at Fusion 54, 101 W. Main St., to discuss current and future projects.

“Any time you go into these types of things, you learn something every time you do it,” Fulwider said. “Whether the outcome’s positive or negative, there’s always learning factors to it. I just think that the more often these things come to us and we’re participating in these, we’re just going to continue to get better and continue to be more available to people in the future. We just want to continue to be competitive and continue to work to be ready for the next opportunity, whether it’s Nucor or something else. Just know that we’re here to do what we can and do the best job we can to have people pursue Montgomery County.”

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